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Preview: Bro./Fr. Leo

Bro./Fr. Leo

Ordained Franciscan Brother, living in Santa Barbara, CA as part of the Old Mission Community. e-mail me at

Updated: 2015-03-11T23:48:37.626-07:00



It has been a good while since I checked my own blog! Forgot how to add things. But I have a 50 year "golden anniversary" of my Ordination coming up this year, so thought I might post some reflections. It has been a good 50 years. I've been assigned to various work in our Franciscan Province out here on the West coast. Mostly smaller parishes, as 'associate' and a couple of times as Pastor. A bit of teaching in the religion course at Catholic High Schools. Some Retreat work. A stint as Chaplain at the California Drug Rehabilitation Center, a state prison. Did a course in Marriage, Family, Child Counseling and some training in Transactional Analysis. Some work with the Native Americans on the Tohono O'hdham Reservation outside of Tucson. And some time as Chaplain at the University of California at Riverside, CA. Moving from Sacramento to Spokane to the mission stations associated with Tularosa, N.M. to Tigard OR. to Spokane again, to Parker, AZ. and then to the Reservation and after that to U.C. Riverside and then to our Retreat House at Las Cruces, NM. That took me into the Counseling courses, while living at our Old Mission San Luis Rey, and then into the Prison work. Some "Sabbatical time" while I got one of the first Mac computers and learned what I could do with it. And eventually Pastor at old Mission San Antonio in California. Back to the Tohono O'dham Reservation for a while, followed by a year helping out in a Diocesan parish in Apache Junction, AZ. and eventually here to Old Mission Santa Barbara, working with an intentional community that worships on Sundays at the former seminary Chapel here. Over the course of time and experience and reading a study and reflection I find a lot of the concepts of "being priest" that I started out with have undergone changes. While in Spokane the second time the Vatican Council was happening. Together with some people of the parish there we tried to discuss and understand the documents as they were being published. Eventually the people said that they really did not quite 'get into' all of the "churchese" language. So we started to take the topic sentences from all the paragraphs, figure out what "question" they seemed to be responding to, and eventually developed a digest of all of the documents that made a comprehensive study based on and relating all of them to the central document of the Constitution on the Church. One of the more helpful "insights" that came from this work was that we ought to start with the "Declaration on Religious Freedom" about how people came to reach Religious Truths, as well as other truths; and the Document on Scripture and Revelation, giving guidelines on our present understanding and interpretation and use of Scripture. Eventually, while in Parker AZ, I had opportunity to mimeograph all of it, and we used it in the parish week by week to understand it and to apply it as we went along. When I got the Mac computer I re-typed the whole thing into a computerized form. I still use it as a quick reference when I want to find out what the Vatican Council was all about. Which leads me to reflections on "priesthood" and what it ought to be. By the time of the Council the theological consenus that became recognized as approved Doctrine was that the Bishop is "the priest" in the Diocese, and he "ordains" helpers to "extend the presence and ministry of the Bishop." It seems to me that opens up the need to do considerable reflection and study about ministry in the Church. The presence and ministry of the Bishop is already, and ought to be, and needs to be extended through a lot of people who have the gift and training and ability to do the particular ministry. A lot of what we used to consider "reserved" to "the priest" can and should be done by many others. Perhaps the "priestly function" can be sub-divided and people ought to be ordained or appointed to do their ministry in the name of the Bishop. So we struggle, at present, between re-inforcing the concept of "priest" that existed when I was ordained and moving to consider a whole new conc[...]


THE NEW E-MAGISTERIUM Richard R. Gaillardetz A common complaint heard from the Catholic right is that Catholic theologians are presenting themselves as a "competing magisterium" to that of the college of,bishops. An extended and bitterly polemical exposition of this complaint can be found in Ralph McInerny's new book, What Went Wrong With Vatican II: The Catholic Crisis Explained. There McInerny describes a postconciliar church in the midst of a crisis brought about by the corrosive work of dissenting theologians. It is a caricature that gains credence more by its widespread repetition than by any objective analysis of the situation in the church today. Unfortunately, the pressure put on the American bishops by the Roman Curia to add "juridical teeth" to their implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae suggests that some in the Vatican may have taken this caricature to heart. I cannot but wonder whether this vast expenditure of ecclesiastical time and energy has not been misspent. I personally know of no serious Catholic theologian who holds that theologians possess the same authority as the college of bishops. Indeed, in my experience the vast majority of Catholic theologians recognize the unique role the bishops play in the life of the church. They acknowledge a legitimate accountability to the ecclesiastical magisterium even as they may disagree with the concrete manner in which ecclesiastical oversight, in certain particular instances, is exercised. This sense of respect is manifested in their frequent collaboration with the bishops as seminary professors, diocesan consultors, participants in episcopally sponsored ecumenical dialogues and theological task forces. In short, the danger posed by "dissenting" theologians has been grossly exaggerated. Credentialled Catholic theologians are readily identified, and, to the extent that they speak in public or publish their views, are easily held accountable for their fidelity to the great tradition of the church. If a particular theologian proposes a position clearly at variance with the great tradition, a bishop can make a straightforward statement to the effect that position X proposed by theologian Y does not, at present, represent the accepted teaching of the church. I suspect the far more realistic threat of a new and competing magisterium may be, not the chimerical "magisterium of theologians," but a new "e-magisterium" emerging on the Internet. I have in mind here the proliferation of self proclaimed "Catholic" Web sites that often dispense, in the name of orthodoxy, highly questionable theological materials. The materials available on these Web sites are almost always presented as the "orthodox" exposition of the Catholic faith. This impression is strengthened by the fact that one can download from these sites ecclesiastical documents, the inclusion of which on the site gives an often unwarranted veneer of ecclesiastical respectability. I know of no empirical study of the matter, but my suspicion is that in this age of the Internet far more first world Catholics are influenced by views championed on these ecclesiastically unmonitored Web sites than have ever been "confused" by the writings of Tissa Balasuriya or Jacques Dupuis! The volume by Balasuriya that initially occasioned the investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had sold, at the time of his initial investigation, approximately 750 copies. I suspect the EWTN Web site receives more "hits" in a single day The growing impact of this e-magisterium has been confirmed in university classrooms. I have received a growing number of papers from theology students that draw on sources obtained from the Internet. Well-meaning theology students, including some who are preparing for both ordained and non-ordained ministry in the church, increasingly look to these sources to ascertain the "authentic Catholic position" on a particular matter. As but one example I might mention a document downloaded from a "Catholic" Web site [...]


Just wondering : What if Fr. Thomas Doyle was invited to be a member of the Gov. Keating Oversight Board to advise the Bishops on implementing the "Charter for Protection of Children and Young People." He is one person who seems to come across well on Television, and who would add considerably to the trust and prestige of this board.


Some people seem concerned that "Bishops should act like Bishops' and as "successors to the Apostles.

Well, if they did here is what they might be doing -

I always thought that the best example of how the ÒcollegiumÓ of Bishops could really show its succeeding to the ÒcollegiumÓ of Apostles can be found in the beginning of the book of Acts, Chapter 6 -

ÒAt that time, as the number of disciples was increasing, the Greek speaking Christians made a complaint about the Hebrew speaking widows being favored in the daily distribution of aide.
So the Twelve called a full meeting of all the disciples and said: ÔIt is not right that we should neglect the Word of God so as to being distributing the food. You, the people, must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom, and we will hand that duty over to them, while we devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the word.Ô
The whole assembly (church) approved of this proposal and elected Steven...Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus of Antioch. They presented these to the Apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.Ó (note that most of these names are Greek, and one, Nicolaus, is described as being a recent convert to Judaism)

From this it would seem that if the Bishops ( and their Pastor delegates who represent the Bishop in a Parish ) were to follow the example of the Apostles then the following would apply -

a) The Bishops would see it as their particular job to devote themselves to prayer and to the service of the Word.

b) They would accept the fact that as the church grows and develops and society changes, there will inevitably be new problems that arise.

b) When problems arise, they would call all the people together, and listen to them. Then they propose a possible solution, involving delegation of their previous ÒtaskÓ which takes them away from their proper role, to the people themselves.

c) They would acknowledge that among the people there are those who are competent, with good reputation, filled with the Spirit, and with the wisdom to deal with the problem.

d) The whole church has a part in approving the proposal being offered.

e) The church community elects people to fulfill the ministry that is needed.

f) The Bishops then ratify and approve the decision and selection and Òlay their hands on themÓ - ÒordainÓ them to the ministry that they are chosen for and capable of.

Sometimes, if the problem involves the larger society outside of the church community, they might even consult with competent people who are not members of the church itself.


Here's a long post of material Im working up comparing the US proposals for Protection of Children with those adopted by the Bishops of England and Wales. Somehow the English detailed protection policy involving every member of the Church almost makes our American "Charter for Protection" seem a wee bit like a protection for the Bishops from future law suits. Check it out for yourself. (the "paste" looses all my neat fonts and formatting, but it gives you an idea of what was adopted.) Charter (U.S.) vs. Program for Action (Engl.) How The Policies were Developed U.S. bishops: Charter for the Protection of Children & Young People (Dallas Statement) Preamble We Bishops take responsibility for dealing with this problem, with God's help and in full collaboration with our people - Have been addressing it: e.g.June 1992 meeting established 5 principles to be followed. Cf. web site (some Bishops observed them, some did not) And, of course, there were the preliminary reports given by Fr. Thomas Doyle and others dating back to 1985) Present proposals now developed on basis of the Ad Hoc Committee proposals English Bishops A Program for Action: Child Protection in the Catholic Church of England and Wales cf: Lord Nolan Report Introduction In 2000, Archbishop of Westminister invited Lord Nolan to chair an independent committee : 4 Cath. (incl. 1 Bishop, 1 Msgr.), 6 not. This is the Final Report, adopted September, 2001 Process: They were asked to examine and review arrangements made for child protection and the prevention of abuse within the Catholic Church and to make recommendations; They invited wide consultation of competent people, including consultation with Irish Bishops. Policy Statements U.S. bishops: The Church in the United States is experiencing a crisis without precedent in our times. The sexual abuse of children and young people by some priests and bishops, and the ways in which we bishops addressed these crimes and sins, have caused enormous pain, anger, and confusion. .... In the past, secrecy has created an atmosphere that has inhibited the healing process, and in some cases enabled sexually abusive behavior to be repeated. - As bishops we acknowledge our mistakes...and we apologize and take responsibility for too often failing victims and our people in the past. We also take responsibility for dealing with this problem strongly, consistently, and effectively in the future. - We acknowledge our need to be in dialogue with all Catholics, especially victims and parents, around this issue. - By these actions, we want to demonstrate to the wider community that we comprehend the gravity of the sexual abuse of minors. We Pledge: 1 - We will work to our utmost for protection of children and youth. 2 - We will devote the necessary resources and personnel 3 - We will do our best to ordain & put into positions of trust only those who share this commitment 4 - will work toward healing and reconciliation for those sexually abused by Clerics. We Bishops of the U.S. commit ourselves to immediate implementation. of these Policies. English Bishops 4.2 - The structure of the Church means that formal responsibility for action lies primarily with individual bishops and superiors of religious orders. We are confident that all those involved commit themselves to the program we have set out. The key requirements are summarized in our first three recommendations: Recommendation 1 - The Catholic Church should be an example of best practices of prevention of abuse & responding to it. Recommendation 2 - Top priority is to have protective policies and practices operating effectively in parishes, dioceses, and religious orders. Recommendation 3 - The whole Church of England and Wales and the individual bishops and religious superiors commit themselves to: ¥ A single set of policies, principles and practices based on[...]


Want to Blog?
This spot is intended for those who would like to talk about "Catholic issues" or maybe just "Life Issues."

I have a few "connections" below, which I hope to transfer to the "Links" column, once I learn how to do that. Right now another "blogger" has helped me borrow his settings and links. It will give an idea of what can be done. Take a look at some of them. Some I'll keep, some I might change.

Some connections to Franciscan Province of Santa Barbara, California Province

connect to - Source of Cards and home site of Poor Clare's in Spokane, WA.
or - Home site of our Franciscan Province of St. Barbara
or - Home site related to former St. Anthony Seminary and alumni

Still need to find that "code" to create those neat "pop-up" boxes for people to reply to a post. And lots of other stuff about how to use these blogs. Suggestions welcome.

I'll just post my e-mail address for now: