In reference to the material about the bishop and the two priests, all never identified, which is on your web page under the heading RCF Runs Powerful Washington Times Ad, I still stand on the the side of being shocked that your organization would run a headline that states "Sexually Abusive Bishop Must Be Removed!" and ends with your address to solicit support for a case that is some year and months old, if all the information you have provided is correct.
The laws of the United States protect people from libel. In many cases people win libel suits based upon proof that it was unnecessary for their attackers to reveal things about them that would be damaging. Going after abusers in court and through the legal system does not necessitate their public identification. I am also concerned that your organization, so obviously Catholic, seems to be unaware of the injunctions of the basic moral law that forbids lies, rash judgment, detraction, calumny, and the telling of secrets we are bound to keep. (#266, Baltimore Catechism #2) A person commits the sin of rash judgment when, without sufficient reason, he believes something harmful to another's character. (#267, Baltimore Catechism #2) [Does the article contribute to other people making rash judgments about the unidentified bishop and the priests involved?] A person commits the sin of detraction when, without a good reason, he makes known the hidden faults of another. (#268, Baltimore Catechism #2) [Should we not let the people involved charge the other in court and, when proven guilty, let the guilty party be punished and become a publicly acknowledged criminal, rather than stirring up the "faithful" who have enough moral challenge in their own lives already and leading them rash judgment and detraction? Isn't this sin heaped upon sin? Isn't this the exact error from which St. Paul and the Gospels proclaim that faith in the forgiveness of God, through Jesus Christ, liberates us?]
I honestly believe that it is a shameful practice to stir people up with innuendo and allegation where they cannot be privy to the results of litigation and therefore may sometimes never see the evil punished and the right prevail.
Director, Office of Catechetical Services
Archdiocese of Dubuque
Mail Sent: March 24, 1998 9:23 am PST Item: R015L0T
RCFs answer, March 25, 1998
Dear Mr. Hoffman,
RCF received your recent charitable rebuke with deep gratitude. We thank you for taking the time and energy to outline some of the "injunctions of the basic moral law," as it pertains to the issues of lies, rash judgment, detraction, calumny, and the telling of secrets we are bound to keep. It may surprise you, but we are in absolute agreement with you that these are grave faults. We have no desire to commit any of them and are indebted to those who show us our errors.
However, it does not appear that you have all the facts with which to judge RCF of these sins.
In the case of Bishop Ryan, consorting with prostitutes and soliciting consensual sex is not a civil offense, so your suggestion that his case should be handled through the civil courts is irrelevant.
Extensive materials demon-strating Bishop Ryans misconduct, including signed depositions, were presented by RCF to the Papal Nuncio with the express intention that the Vatican would investigate the situation. Not only was there no investigation (at that time), but the Nuncio sent all the materials back to Bishop Ryan. RCF and those most intimately involved with this case felt they had been betrayed and were left without recourse. (Since RCF has gone public, the Vatican has urged the soon-to-be Cardinal George to conduct an investigation.)
Bishop Ryans continued presence as acting Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield has grave consequences. It is not merely that his sexual activity is scandalous to the widening circle of people who have become aware of it (prior to, and independently of, RCFs publicity). The more urgent problem created by Bishop Ryans immoral behavior is that it has profoundly affected his capacity to function as a bishop, to teach and guide his flock. Hence, (to give one example from many) Planned Parenthood is permitted to operate among fellow Catholics without curtailment, because Bishop Ryan is incapable of exercising moral authority. Therefore, after many months of trying to handle the matter privately, and because of the grave necessity for the faithful of Springfield to protect themselves and their children, RCF reluctantly has made the matter public.
RCFs solicitation of additional evidence in Bishop Ryans case, as well as others, is not an attempt to make public the sins of another. In fact, we have much evidence about Bishop Ryan (and others) that we have not used in any public capacity. The purposes for this additional evidence are twofold: to give a complete picture to rightful investigators, and to further substantiate RCF plaints.
What these solicitations accomplish is the collection of evidence about situations which have been suffered quietly by the faithful for years. If those in authority will work with us to relieve these situations privately, we will be more than cooperative. If those in authority will not work with us, RCF will do what it must to protect its Catholic membership.
Your point, if we have understood it correctly, that RCF ads may, in and of themselves, create an atmosphere of unsubstantiated suspicion within a diocese, is a valid concern. RCF has only resorted to this effort in places where there is already overwhelming evidence of misconduct and abuse that is publicly well-known. In these dioceses, RCF is not creating "innuendo" or "allegations," but innuendo, allegations, and great pain, suffering, and damage to souls already exist there abundantly.
Again, RCF sincerely thanks you for your efforts to correct us. God knows, we are sinners, too, and have much need of that correction. However, the tactics RCF is using to address the long-standing abuses within our dioceses have been carefully thought out, using both excellent legal advice and the spiritual direction of many holy priests.
God bless you.
From Sister Judy.
My heart is saddened to have read what your organization is doing to the face of Christ. I am a Catholic Sister for the past 35 years and am very aware of mistakes and growth within our Church. Yet what I see your organization doing is tantamount to throwing stones...war like in affect...at persons and situations that call forth healing and compassion from God's people. The integrity of the Church is ALIVE and activated with and through people who deeply love God and are on a journey to unpack the message of TRUTH in various ways.
I encourage this organization to search their hearts as to why you have such a need to call meetings that bespeak control, righteousness of and toward our Church. What would Jesus do faced with dissatisfaction is a fair question. The Gospels give us the answer. Condemnation is not one of them.
Calling St. Michael's people to recall negative experiences of the past can truly disrupt an entire parish that has been about building community care and trust.
Have any of you been without sin? Throw the first stone!
Respectfully submitted, Sister Judy Zeno, osf
TO: Sr. Judy Zeno, OSF
St. Michaels Parish
Dear Sr. Judy,
Thank you for your letter of concern. You are certainly correct to remind the individuals of RCF that they are sinners we sorrowfully concur with you. However, the rhetorical question you ask of our organization, "What would Jesus do in the face of dissatisfaction?" and the answer you provide, "healing and compassion" bespeak two misunderstandings. The first misunderstanding is that RCF is "dissatisfied" with the Church. You are mistaken. We are utterly, absolutely, gloriously satisfied with Her - as you appear to be. We share your enthusiasm that the "integrity of the Church is ALIVE and activated with and through people who deeply love God and are on a journey to unpack the message of TRUTH in various ways. "Amen! Amen!Nevertheless, that enthusiasm doesnt mean that one has abandoned his critical facilities as well you know: you have critically assessed RCF to be (figuratively) throwing stones, condemnatory, and disruptive of St. Michaels parish by its dredging up of past negative experiences. Further, you have judged RCFs meetings (or was it the need to call those meetings?) to be efforts at control and righteousness (which sounds as if you mean to say, self-righteousness). You are probably correct about us, as individuals however, you do realize that in pointing such things out, you have been judgmental, and possible self-righteous, as well? I would suspect that you would defend your judgmentalism as a necessary function of holy discernment, even as you would deplore any unhealthy motives in yourself in making those judgments. Critical assessment of ideas and moral motives is not something the Christian is asked to abandon at the Church door. Quite the contrary! You ask what Jesus would have done. There is our answer what did Jesus do? He judged actions and behaved accordingly. When the woman caught in adultery was about to be stoned, he had compassion, rescued her and told her to sin no more. When the temple was used as a market place, however, Jesus overturned tables and whipped the offenders. Healing in this instance was a bloodletting. Jesus was gentle with the rich young man who wanted to gain eternal life but wasnt quite ready to give everything he had back to the Lord; he was incredibly harsh to Jewish leaders who led people astray. "You brood of vipers," he called them, "You whited sepulchers!" It would be better for them, Jesus said, to have a millstone tied around their necks and to be cast into the sea. Here is what we see as your second misunderstanding: compassion and healing are not always mild and deferential things. The saccharin Jesus who forgives those who have no contrition never existed. So back to your first misunderstanding: RCF is not "dissatisfied" with the Church. We are horrified by what certain of Her leaders are unrepentantly doing to the faithful, without correction. We see no mandate to be silent when heresy is audaciously preached from the pulpit nor to be docile when a "religious" molests children. Because, returning to your second misunderstanding, this is neither "compassionate" nor can there be "healing" when such sores are permitted to fester unchecked. Admonishing sinners is a work of mercy. As well you know, sister: you wrote to us.