View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mafia Rosaries

One of the good things about Days of Recollection like Saturday's for Rochester-area Secular Franciscans was the opportunity for fellowship.

We talk about family, problems, the ideas presented that day, issues the Church or we are facing, the good food members brought to share, jobs, and so on.

At one point I was chatting with a few fellow Franciscans when the topic of a particular rosary campaign came up.

The campaign is for Bishop Clark and our Diocese.

I noted that I do pray for both, but ...

They gave me knowing looks, so I went on.

But, it seemed like this campaign is not so much intended for the Bishop as directed against him.

They acknowledged that when they read about it it made them feel uneasy, too.

The idea behind it seems to be that we don't like the way things are in the diocese, so we should pray to God to make the Bishop change, or remove him.

I jokingly said it almost came across as if they were asking for a "hit" on the Bishop Mafia-style.

I don't know if that is the intention of the campaign - but it's interesting that I was not alone in getting that impression. [Added later - If I had written this to say more accurately what I meant, I would have phrased it something like, "I'm not saying that literally killing the Bishop is the intention of the creator of the rosary campaign - but ...." I did mean the "hit" reference as a joke. Sorry if it came across as otherwise due to my poor wording.]

When I first read of the campaign, I thought of St. Francis's Admonition XXVI:

Blessed is the servant of God who exhibits confidence in clerics who live uprightly according to the form of the holy Roman Church. And woe to those who despise them: for even though they [the clerics] may be sinners, nevertheless no one ought to judge them, because the Lord Himself reserves to Himself alone the right of judging them. For as the administration with which they are charged, to wit, of the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which they receive and which they alone administer to others—is greater than all others, even so the sin of those who offend against them is greater than any against all the other men in this world.

Fresh on my mind as we spoke at the Day of Recollection was one of the talks earlier that day in which Father Anthony cited the story of when St. Francis and his companions went to Pope Innocent III to gain his approval for what they were doing. The Pope, troubled by many such groups, perhaps a bit sarcastically and in short-temper, told them to go back to tending swine - which Francis and his companions joyfully, humbly and obediently did.

St. Francis proclaimed and modeled respect for those in spiritual authority over us.

I will continue to pray for Bishop Clark, as I always do. But I won't be taking part in this particular campaign.

32 Comments:

Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

I jokingly said it almost came across as if they were asking for a "hit" on the Bishop Mafia-style.

I don't know if that is the intention of the campaign - but it's interesting that I was not alone in getting that impression.
Lee, beneath your query in the second paragraph is a rather serious allegation. Do you really think it's possible that Gene Michael, the man behind this effort, is inviting someone to murder Bishop Clark?

When I first read of the campaign, I thought of St. Francis's Admonition XXVI:

Blessed is the servant of God who exhibits confidence in clerics who live uprightly according to the form of the holy Roman Church. ...
And when I first read St. Francis admonition, I wished that my hometown had such a cleric for its shepherd.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Barb, sfo said...

Lee, good for you in standing strong and encouraging others to do the same. YES, pray for your Bishop as you always do--as I am sure you pray for the Pope and for your priests. Prayer with an axe to grind, I think, is not honest prayer.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Rich - of course not.

I said "jokingly" and I put "hit" in quotations marks. If I had meant it literally there would have been no quotation marks.

So I'm not saying anyone would is calling for Bishop Clark to murdered. But the goal of the campaign is clearly to pray that either Bishop Clark "change his ways" or that something happen - a "hit" - to make him leave ahead of his retirement date. That could mean some divine or Roman intervention that would send him to the Vatican to take charge of some obscure office, perhaps, or maybe transfer him to another see (Ogdensburg is open). Maybe the Pope could make him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Or the "hit" could even be that Bishop Clark might be forced to step down due to some sudden personal, family or health concern (as happened with Bishop Hogan).

After all, if people are praying that he not stick around until his retirement date in 2012, what else could they mean? Surely not that God would suddenly call him home? I can't imagine any good Christian celebrating that.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

Lee,

You're walking back the dog. There are two plausible scenarios short of "death" by which Bishop Clark would vacate his see: (1) he abdicates, (2) Rome intervenes.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Walking back the dog? That's a new one on me! What does that mean? I'm always looking for some new phrases I can "unleash" on my students. (Well, you did mention a dog! :-)

As for the two reasons you cite, I essentially said those in my response.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Grace Leonardi said...

Walking back the dog? That's a new one on me! What does that mean?It means you realize you went too far and are semantically retreating.

As for the two reasons you cite, I essentially said those in my response.No, you essentially did not. You suggested Gene may wish that harm befall the bishop; the title of your post reveals as much.

7:58 PM  
Anonymous MFB said...

I agree with the Leonardis, you did suggest, through the title of your post and your sick attempt at humor, that Credo is praying for harm to befall upon our bishop.

Credo is praying for a conversion of the bishop, not for him to die. That's insane to suggest such a thing, even if you are trying to be a standup comic The idea of praying for a new bishop is for assistance for our diocese if this bishop hardens his heart and continues his relentless dismantling of our diocese. We first pray for his heart to be softened, and should that fail, we pray for a new bishop. I don't understand the problem with this.

Bishop Clark is cementing his legacy. His legacy will be the secularization of the diocese of Rochester, the death of the diocese as it is split between Buffalo and Syracuse, and the turning of Catholics, most notably those of Spiritus Christi, towards the king of darkness.

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Mary Kay said...

Lee, I lurk on all the DOR blogs and comment on some. This post of yours calls for a comment.

One of the things that most distressed me when I moved back to DOR was the … er, lack of unity among Catholics. More like a civil war. My hope is that this diocese will someday have greater spiritual unity.

As for the post itself, I had to pick my jaw up from the floor when I saw the post title. Mary always and only points the way to Jesus. Your post title should have been a cue that you were going off-track.

Lee and Barb, you’re both a bit rash in your judgment. Barb, I looked at your blog and if you live in NJ, you have no idea what it’s like in this diocese, nor are you in a position to declare than anyone here has “an axe to grind” or if their prayer is honest or not. Lee, you asserted that some in the diocese are saying the rosary with ill will. Did you not read the paragraph, We ask for God’s intervention to resolve the unprecedented crisis of faith in the Diocese of Rochester. We particularly request that we be given godly leadership at the Episcopal level in order to deal with this crisis. If the critical problems in this diocese cannot be resolved under the current leadership, we ask that Rome would intervene and provide us with a bishop who is capable of restoring the Catholic faith in this diocese.”?

It seems that you are predicating the ill will of the rosary campaign on the suggestion that the bishop might leave before his retirement date. I’ve noticed that you do have a defensiveness about the bishop, but when you eliminate entirely the possibility of an option, are you not trying to limit how God can work? I have no idea whether Bishop Clark will stay here until his retirement date or leave earlier than that, but to be completely open to God’s will means being open to all the possibilities.

Many, many, many moons ago – in fact, it was probably pre-Bishop Clark – a priest here was, to be polite, not doing his priestly duties. It was a very difficult situation, but the people decided to “report” the priest to the diocese who was then removed. The medical issue was addressed and I’ve read in the Courier recently that he is still doing parish work and I would guess having benefitted from being removed earlier.

That’s essentially my objection to your quote from St. Francis. Yes, prayer is important as is treating all with respect. But one can not rule out removal from a situation. Several examples come to mind, but since I’m ready to fall asleep on my feet, will leave that for another time.

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What priest are you talking about Mary Kay? I remember this but the name escapes me.

10:03 PM  
Anonymous M said...

Lee--Do you deny that the Diocese of Rochester is in a particularly bad place right now? Namely, do you deny that it is doing considerably worse than its neighboring dioceses? If you do, you should look at numbers--Mass attendance, Catholic School attendance, dissident speakers, and vocations, and tell me that you still think the diocese is in a good place.

The fact of the matter is, Matthew Clark has been here for thirty years, and it has been under his watch that the diocese has slowly but surely gone down the drain.

Sacred Heart Cathedral featured "This little light of mine" as the offertory hymn tonight, with Bp. Clark presiding. It's a joke! The Illiturgical prancing, the failure to kneel as required by both Rome and the USCCB, the destruction of the Cathedral, the ecumenism valued over truth.

Lee, honestly, do you think that the Diocese does not need something drastic to change? If someone wanted to order a hit on Bishop Clark, they'd do that, not ask others to pray rosaries!

As you often do, you posted something absurd without carefully contemplating your words. I'd love to respect your thoughts and your blog, I really would. That said, I cannot recommend your writing to anyone, because I don't trust it! Ten Reasons and Rochester Catholic, those are trustworthy. So is DORCatholic, What Does the Prayer Really Say, and American Papist. Yours, on the other hand...I tell others to generally avoid.

11:46 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Ah, if that is what walking back the dog means, then no, I am not "semantically retreating." I said what I said, and I stand by it. My response to Rich was to point to some things I had originally said that maybe he had overlooked.

5:32 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Let's see -

1) he abdicates,

"Or the "hit" could even be that Bishop Clark might be forced to step down due to some sudden personal, family or health concern (as happened with Bishop Hogan)."

in other words, abdicates

(2) Rome intervenes.

"That could mean some divine or Roman intervention that would send him to the Vatican to take charge of some obscure office, perhaps, or maybe transfer him to another see (Ogdensburg is open). Maybe the Pope could make him an offer he couldn't refuse."

Sounds like I was talking about Rome intervening.

5:36 AM  
Blogger Tmac said...

Make that two of us that won't be participating in this new smear campaign of Bishop Clark

6:34 AM  
Anonymous Mary Kay said...

tmac, are you equating saying rosaries with a "smear campaign"?

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder why tmac won't be participating... Could it be because she runs the second most liberal blog in Rochester, next to Raymond Grosswirth's mental ramblings?

This blog is turning into a hangout for local dissidents. What a shame. I actually enjoy most of the posts, but the defense of Bishop Clark, and his actions, are just a bit too much for me to handle. Sorry.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Mary Kay said...

Anon 11:13, what are you trying to say? Can you take responsibility and make a specific statement rather than an overly generalization?

11:39 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Play nice, kids.

4:26 PM  
Blogger David Marciniak said...

Lee, I understood your comments and do agree that despite the obvious problems so clearly evident we are obliged to respect the authority of the Bishop. I do believe that our Church does teach that when Catholics are faced with teachings from prelates that are contrary to the Magisterium that we are not obliged, in good conscience, to follow.

As for a previous post question as to whether a rosary could be used against someone, I seem to remember the mother of a former girlfriend who prayed the rosary earnestly for my departure, whether peacefully or not...
She won, or so she thought! I married the lovely Michelle, and her daughter has been divorced several times...but I digress.

Bottom line: this, too, shall pass. I recently had the great opportunity to speak at the "Ignited by Truth" conference in the diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina. That is a diocese awakening from thirty years of liberal leadership. The present Bishop is nurturing, supportive, and a loyal son of the Church. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit there is amazing, but this flowering of faith came on the heels of many years of suffering and perseverence. Rochester is due, and the Lord will bless those who have indeed persevered.

Thanks for your thought provoking posts!

9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ANON 10:05 Ditto. Every word.

7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is in response to the blog called "Mafia Rosaries".
I have a couple of questions for you, one of which I'll ask right now...before I continue...have you actually read what the Rochester Catholic Rosary Campaign prayer intentions are all about? If so, let me continue with what I have to say.
Prayer, especially praying the Rosary, is one of the most powerful, spiritual weapons, we as children of God have (besides, of course, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass) in order to find God's will for us and for the world. We have not a clue as to what really is God's will but only God himself. The Bless Virgin Mary, the immaculate one, has lead us to believe and know this as a fact through many of her appartions/visitations from approved Church sightings as Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima to name a couple. Many wars were fought and were won by the faithful simply because they turned to praying the rosary in order for God to hear our pleas for help.
Let me ask you another questions before I continue with my perspective on what Rochester Catholic is or is not trying to do. If you saw a loved one spiraling downwards to HELL (and yes, Lee Strong, I know you believe that place because if you say you are a secular Franciscan, you believe in HELL) because of lack of Sunday mass attendance, because of decay in moral attitude and lifestyle, because of going against even ONE of the 10 commandments God has given us all to live a life for Him, would you not "pray" for the person or have many "maases" said for that person so that they would eventually get back "on track" with the faith? I'm sure you would say YES to this question. If not, the validity of anything you say from here on is to be dismissed by anyone who reads these blogs.

On the premise of you saying YES to the above question and on the premise that you have read all that Rochester Catholici has to say about the "spiritual state we are in here in the DOR", all Rochester Catholic and Gene Michael is trying to do, from what I can tell, is get the faithful of the Roman Catholic Church to pray for our DOR because of these facts.....that from 30 years of downward spiral of loss of faithful (lower than the national average), lack of attendance at our local churches, closings of local churches, no use of confession, liturgical abuses (no approved of by the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church), closings of schools, very few vocations to the priesthood and religious life in many years, lack of Sunday mass attendance, not standing up to "right to life" issues, etc, etc, etc, we see a demise and lack of faith no an increase and as a result, the DO has many, many Catholics who are going in a downward spiral to HELL. To bear fruit as a cleric, one must prophesy as a leader and show through word and action how to live a good life to rest in the Lord. I don't see any of what you quoted from St. Francis Admonition XXVI "a cleric who lives uprightly according to form of the "holy" Roman Church." God gives graces to those who ask for them...one way to ask for them is by praying the rosary.
I see much apathy in this diocese....again a lukewarm heart Jesus spits out of his mouth....is that a "good diocese" under attack by a fanatical group of people who JUST WANT TO SAY the rosary for a clerics salvation and those of the rest of the DOR? I think not.
Lee, you must meditat on what you have said against Rochester Catholic/Credo and Gene Michael with what he has proposed in his intentions for the "Rosary Campaign". I believe with all my heart that it is based on good intentions...not bad and that sayiing a rosary or two for the cause would do us all good, especially for this diocese. God bless you always and you will always be on my list to pray for...please pray for me, as I need prayers always. CMM

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this wasn't so sad it might be funny. I've got news for you. People around the country have been praying rosaries for your bishop to be replaced for YEARS. This campaign is a corporal Act of Mercy. The fact that you chose to read something bad into it AND THEN PRONOUNCE A PUBLIC JUDGMENT of a person over it is proof of the dire need of it! Shame on you....uh....Catholics.

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In this particular "Mafia hit rosary" issue, I believe that Mr. Strong should have remained in the back pew, and stayed out of the choir! JMM

12:39 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Good one, JMM!

Of course, being in the back pew it would be easy for me to be grumble, complain and criticize anonymously rather than take an active public role in the Church and parish liturgies.

6:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Judging again, Lee? I, too, am active in my parish as well. But, if you're going to compare praying for people with killing them, then maybe you should remain in the back pew and grumble! JMM

5:46 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Ah, JMM, check out the Mafia Rosary video.

Laughter is good for the soul.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Bill Hunt said...

Lee,

My name is Bill Hunt and we met at the opening of Forty Days for Life in Rochester last summer.

I am saddened by your speculation and gossip at the Franciscan day of recollection. I know those days are spiritually beneficial, but your reflection does not show this. You judge Gene and those of us praying for Bishop Clark and the DOR. You have done what you have accused us of doing: you judge us. You also judge Bishop Clark most harshly by implying that you "know" his intentions are not aligned with our prayer intentions.

The specific prayer intentions detailed in the "Rosaries for Rochester" are clear, spiritually serious, and of a greater magnitude than in most dioceses in the US. Therefore I was disturbed by your accusation "The idea behind it seems to be that we don't like the way things are in the diocese, so we should pray to God to make the Bishop change, or remove him."

The Bishop has clear responsibility and accountability to God as our spiritual leader. Our prayers are FOR him and FOR our Diocese; not for our petty dislikes, but for the care of Christ's Bride according to the form of the holy Roman Church.

You can tell by my writing that, as your brother, I am offended by your accusations. I am writing to implore you to prayerfully reconsider your conclusions. As you are praying for the bishop do not separate yourself from the rest of us.
While Saint Francis clearly respected and obeyed the authority granted by God (as we also do), he was certainly not a "Go along to get along" person, he was courageous and lived obediently as best he could even when it occasionally offended others. His actions caused many of them to change their ways and follow God devoutly.

Your brother in Christ, Bill Hunt

7:36 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Bill- " You also judge Bishop Clark most harshly by implying that you "know" his intentions are not aligned with our prayer intentions."

You completely lost me. When did I say I know his intentions?

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Bill Hunt said...

Lee,

When you wrote "But, it seemed like this campaign is not so much intended for the Bishop as directed against him." implies that you KNOW that the bishop would not appreciate or feel the prayers are FOR him, that assumption judges the bishop and us.

It judges the bishop because you assume he would not appreciate additional help and prayers and even challenges, and that he is not as concerned as we are about the serious issues detailed in the intentions.

Hope that helps.

Bill

8:10 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Sorry, but you are reading too much into that statement.

I would never presume to "know" what the Bishop thinks. My experience of hism is that he is a good and caring man, and I can guess where he might stand on some things - having interviewed him a number of times over the years - but I would never say or try to imply that I know what is in his mind.

But I have seen some folks do that to him - judging his actions, assuming his beliefs on things like schools and priestly/vocations vs. lay leadership.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Just look at part of the prayer:

"We ask for God’s intervention to resolve the unprecedented crisis of faith in the Diocese of Rochester. We particularly request that we be given godly leadership at the Episcopal level in order to deal with this crisis."

This essentially says that Bishop Clark in not not providing Godly leadership - a pretty harsh judgment on him. To say he is not providing effective leadership is one thing, but to basically attack him for not being "godly" is pretty offensive.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Moreover, there is a history here that colors the campaign -

"I guess it doesn’t matter much, as ideology almost always trumps theology in this diocese."

"Most DOR Catholics no longer attend Mass or pay any attention to the Church’s teachings."

"Of course, most sensible people no longer assist at Mass at the Cathedral. They left long ago."

" in the doctrinally challenged DOR."

"It would appear that there is no governing authority whatsoever in the DOR. Anything goes here. Anything, that is, except for orthodoxy."

"If only these documents had the same meaning in the parallel universe of the DOR."

"Why bother with the priest. He is just an impediment to the mission of letting non-ordained persons assume the role of the clergy in the DOR."

"The school is not subject to the whims of the foundering DOR, so it cannot be shuttered by an uncaring bureaucracy."

"The reason that none of this will result in a change of course for diocesan policies is that ideology and pride come first in the DOR."

"Local Catholics, beware. No one is minding the flock."

"Follow the link to see the DOR’s latest parody of Catholicism. Rome-PLEASE SEND HELP! (That is, if the DOR is still Roman Catholic.) ...
the latest episode of the DOR sit-com, “Pathology Today”."

You get the gist.

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Bill Hunt said...

Lee,

I am not connected to the internet at home, so my reply is a little delayed. Thank you for replying to my post.

I can see from your words what you react to, but I ask that you take into account the context of those snippets you printed. After reading your post I went back to read the originals. First of all, Gene has posted well over a hundred articles and the selected phrases don't represent the breadth of what he has written. More importantly the phrases you quote were each referencing factual events within the DOR that cry out to be addressed by leadership, but are not and have not been for a very long time.

From what you have and have not written, I believe that you are also concerned by the fact that these serious issues have not been addressed. You did not dismiss or counter any of the issues raised.

Our prayers are for the DOR and for the Bishop.

1:54 PM  

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