Renewal efforts

Toxic diocesan culture remains untouched in renewal plans

If you’re jumping online to join the Bishop of Buffalo’s “symposium” on May 8, you probably were emailed a heads up overview —the basis of the online event– which you can download here.

Within three pages of this document we learn that “the greatest threat to the Church is lack of a compelling and vibrant vision and on-going plan…” and without it, “our Diocese is on a slow path to irrelevance.” So we are told by the “Diocesan Renewal Task Force Report on Reinvigoration of Parish Life.”

No disrespect to the task force that said it did an “extensive examination” of the diocese, but experts (and Boston journalists) have revealed

the greatest threat to the Church is the toxic culture spawned by our leaders who created a system that ravaged lives and souls of innocent human beings.

It is this very culture which enabled the clergy sexual abuse crisis to flourish to begin with. And guess what? That toxic culture is left UNTOUCHED in the proposed recommendations for diocesan renewal we were just handed.

Many leaders STILL OPERATING IN OUR DIOCESE have been nurtured in this culture. What is the culture’s defining feature? The extent to which leaders are willing to sacrifice (anyone and anything) to preserve the institution’s stability and image. It is why I posted a reminder of Rev. Bryan Zielenieski’s chilling television interview in which he watered down for public consumption a very serious, objectively heinous incident with diocesan priests–while shaming the victims who heroically reported the allegations. That’s just one snapshot of the vibrancy of this toxic culture alive and well today. This grave evil must be eradicated first before we flesh out renewal ideas from failing dioceses like Detroit. One thing this document seals for us is the very real fact that

1. these leaders who sacrificed victims/survivors as part of this culture face no professional accountability for the reckless execution of their duties in their official capacities (Some, like Father Bryan, get promoted!) It is a defining feature of clericalism to avoid the same consequences laity must face under the same circumstances in their lives.

2. we laity are the ones to pick up the heavy load of “renewal” efforts by conforming to new visions that burden us with these same “leaders”–the hired help1 Jesus warned us about.

Lasting reform begins with conversion. Jesus’ call to conversion is not optional. It is a gospel duty no one can escape, including diocesan officials and anyone who advises them.

Rosaries for all operating in good faith in this vital renewal effort. St. Joseph, protector of Holy Church, patron of the Diocese of Buffalo, please, pray for us.

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