Monday, January 26, 2015

LONG LIVE POPE FRANCIS!

LONG LIVE POPE FRANCIS !
                                                By Charlene C. Duline


I love Pope Francis. I loved him when he told our priests and bishops that they should smell like their sheep; that they should get out from behind their desks and get out among their sheep.  We, the laity, being the sheep.  At the same time, dear Francis is aware that we the common folk don’t always want to smell like sheep. He invited some homeless men to have dinner with him and one man refused because he felt that he smelled too bad to eat with the pope. The Holy Father sent out an emissary to see what the homeless needed and wanted. The result is they want a place where they can shower. The Holy Father then had showers installed at the Vatican for the homeless.  He listens to his people.

I daresay that Pope Francis might be unaware that many American priests are also homeless and living on the streets, and who would welcome the opportunity to have a shower available. Some of our priests who have been accused are unable to find housing and live under bridges with others who are homeless. Priests who are accused of sexual abuse – and no bishop has ever asked for proof – and go to prison have nothing when they are released from prison.  They cannot live near a school or a public park or a beach, no place where children might be present. None of our bishops or canon lawyers seem able or willing to help them since they are assumed to be guilty – despite any evidence to the contrary – and they are removed from public ministry and thrown out of their rectories, AKA The Dallas Charter.  One monsignor waited ten years before his diocese determined that he was innocent of all charges against him.  One wonders how that was determined since the crimes were supposedly committed almost 50 years ago.  What a farce. Few Catholics in the pews are concerned about priests , yet the same Catholics rant and question the legitimacy of this pope. One case in point is that of Father Gordon MacRae, now serving his 21st year for a crime that never happened. Yet his ordinary, Bishop McCormack and his trusted assistant, Msgr. Edward Arsenault -  now serving a prison sentence for stealing money from his diocese and the account of a deceased priest - and the bishop who followed, Bishop Libasci, have ignored his pleas for assistance which they promised. Arsenault also was accused of having an affair with a male musician who he wined and dined sumptuously and publicly.   




We must continue to keep Pope Francis in our prayers.  There are those inside the Vatican who would like to see him dead.  He is reforming the Curia; managing the Vatican’s bank, and condemning the Mafia and their followers; all of which puts crosshairs on his back.  But he continues shaking up the Church.  I firmly believe that as long as he resides at the little guest house, he will be fairly safe. His penchant for venturing into crowds, kissing babies and touching people call for our prayers that he will be kept safe. We trust our Lord to protect him. He has a reason beyond the ostentatiousness of living in the Vatican for not residing there. We remember Pope John Paul I and his short tenure.  A number of odd events happened the night of his death, and Pope Francis is not unaware of those things. Yet he continues to greet people up close and personal, walks among them and, he works as a man time-driven who realizes that he might not be with us for very long.

Some Catholics complain that he is not following tradition.  No, he doesn’t want to wear little red shoes.  He doesn’t wear mink and ermine around his neck because he does not want to.  And I don’t blame him one bit.  I’ve never seen him look happier than when someone put a live baby lamb around his neck.  The Holy Father beamed. He loved it! Perhaps other popes were accustomed to living grandly.  Francis is not.  Back in Argentina, he rode the bus to and from work. He drove his own car and lived simply.  He cooked his own meals. He has not changed. He sees no need to dwell in luxury.  Above all, he always thinks of the poor. None of the lack of those “traditional” things makes Francis any less of a pope. I have read some comments from some who emphasize that they feel he is the “legitimate” pope, but they disagree with his policies.  “Legitimate” pope? What does that mean? Legitimate as opposed to what – an illegitimate pope?  Oh please!

Because he won’t wear red shoes and other paraphernalia that you have become accustomed to does not make him any less a pope.  Because he refuses to live in the Vatican; washes the feet of a Muslim girl along with other youth who may or may not be Catholic; has clouded your vision of a pope living in the Vatican and, speaks often about us serving the poor and unfortunate as we should – get over it! Pull up your big girl panties and your big boy pants, and stop your nonsense about Pope Francis.

We do not deserve such a wonderful pope that God has given to us, a pope who forces us to lift our eyes to our Lord and to see the least of men and women as our brothers and sisters.  Francis does and says things that make people uncomfortable, especially Catholics.  We have neglected and ignored the poor for so long. Francis makes us feel ashamed and we grumble that he should be doing “traditional” things.  The Holy Father is not here to make us feel comfortable as you know. If he makes your butt squirm in your pew on Sunday, so much the better. Perhaps it will cause us to take a second look at the beggar who’s a fixture on our local corner who we have managed to ignore for years.  How would he look and feel in a warmer jacket? Do you have one to spare? Would he enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea, or a hot sandwich? Speak to him. Let him know that you recognize that he is a fellow human being. If that makes you uncomfortable, then you should enroll in the Pope Francis School of Thought that is guaranteed to shake up your world.  Step outside of your “tradition” and do the right thing.

Many Catholics as well as non-Catholics find Pope Francis to be open and refreshing!  He reaches out to everyone, and when he speaks his words resonate with many outside of the Church.  What a blessing to have such a man as our pope! 




Some dare to suggest that Pope Francis is causing a scandal in the Catholic world.  If listening to and loving and trying to help the poor is a scandal, then let the scandal continue!

LONG LIVE POPE FRANCIS!











Tuesday, November 25, 2014

News Flash: Anthony Begin's Cancer in Remission

NEWS FLASH:  Anthony Begin’s Cancer in Remission


Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure and honor to talk with Anthony Begin at the Concord State Prison for Men.  Anthony is the 42 year old man we have been praying for. Now his cancer has suddenly gone into remission thanks – no doubt – to your prayers.  A few weeks ago Anthony was taken to the medical unit and told that he had only one month to live.  Then they gave him 5 to 6 months to live, and now they are saying that he has years to live.  He will have a PET scan every three months.  Dr. God will have the last word.

Anthony is grateful to TSW readers for their prayers, cards and letters, and their example as Catholics.  He is also grateful for his conversion.  He is happy to be back in a bunk just outside the cell of Father Gordon and Pornchai Maximilian. They will take good care of him as they do with all suffering souls placed in their vicinity. 

TSW readers met Anthony in June in a post about him:  “Pentecost, Priesthood and Death in the Afternoon.”   Your prayers began and the Lord heard them.  Anthony thanks you profusely!


                      
Anthony sounded incredibly upbeat when we spoke yesterday.  He is very happy to be back near Fr. Gordon and Pornchai Max for whatever time God gives him on this Earth. Those two men were his backbone in the early days of his diagnosis, and the only time they could see him was at Sunday Mass when Anthony felt well enough to attend. They requested permission to visit him in the medical unit, and only Pornchai Max was permitted one visit.

Tests have revealed that the cancer has gone into full remission, and Anthony was able to move out of the hospital unit.  Hallelujah!  Who says prayer doesn’t work? Our Lord heard our prayers and Anthony is extremely grateful to all TSW readers and their families and friends who spoke to God on his behalf.  He asks that you continue praying for him as he prays for you.

Someone sent Anthony a rosary and a medal that the prison rejected.  Please remember that only cards and letters can be sent to prisoners. Nothing laminated or gifts can be sent to the prison, and will be returned or destroyed. The same rules that are on Father Gordon’s CONTACT page at TSW applies to Anthony as well. 


Let us rejoice for God is good!  All the time!  All the time, God is good! And we thank Him for His goodness and mercy, and for Anthony.






Sunday, May 11, 2014

WHERE OH WHERE IS THE CATHOLIC MEDIA?



                                              By Charlene C. Duline

The Catholic sex scandal has occupied the minds and writings of the media – Catholic and non-Catholic media. What is most shocking is that none of the Catholic magazines or newspapers have written about priests who are falsely accused and who remain in prison.  There is one such priest in prison:  Father Gordon MacRae who has been in prison for 20 years.





Father MacRae is serving a life sentence for crimes that never happened.  He refused to say he was guilty when he was not. The jury never heard during the trial that Father MacRae rejected the State’s plea offer of a sentence of one to three years.  He rejected the offer twice before trial and again following the testimony given by the accuser, Thomas Grover.  New evidence uncovered by a retired FBI investigator and others has enabled Father MacRae’s attorneys to present appeals to the courts, but no media outlet has acknowledged this.  America magazine recently published an editorial (Disorder in the Court” March 17,2014) in which it stated:
“There are few experiences more devastating than being accused of a crime of which one is not guilty. A society like to think of its judicial system as fair and just, yet evidence has been mounting in recent years that innocent men and woman are tried, sent to prison and even executed for crimes they did not commit.”
Even with the new evidence now surfacing about Father Gordon J. MacRae, the Catholic media is still afraid to touch the story.  What are they afraid of? 




The elephant in the room is the Dallas Charter which in effect opened the Church’s coffers to any and every claimant and attorney who approached with an accusation against a priest, dead or alive, incidents that supposedly happened 20, 30, 40 and even 50 years ago.  The dioceses asked no questions and simply handed out the money, and the greedy attorneys became instant millionaires and claimants suddenly appeared from nowhere.
Father MacRae thought justice would prevail.  His diocese had promised to help with his legal expenses. He had no idea that his diocese would pronounce him guilty in a press release before his trial.   This priest was accused and tried in 1994. There was no evidence, simply the word of a hulking, 26 year old man, Thomas Grover, who claimed that Father MacRae raped him week after week for five weeks when he was 16 years old. When asked why he continued to go to Father MacRae for counseling, he replied that he repressed the memory of it all while having a weekly “out of body experience.” 

The trial judge Arthur Brennan apparently had determined Father MacRae’s guilt in advance of hearing the evidence, of which there was none. He allowed the accuser to ignore questions when he began crying on cue from Pauline Goupil, a  psychotherapist hired by Grover’s contingency attorney.  Several in the courtroom noticed that when Grover took the stand, Goupil, sitting at the back of the room, motioned when he was to “cry.” Grover even had the audacity to tearfully ask Judge Brennan to order Father MacRae’s lawyer, Ron Koch, to move from the defense table because he did not want to “have to look at” Father MacRae. Judge Brennan, apparently ignorant of the Constitutional right of defendants to face their accusers, ordered the defense attorney to move to the farthest point in the courtroom to cross-examine Grover. Later it was learned that the defense lawyer was blocking Grover’s view of Ms. Goupil and her cues to him. The two of them along with Judge Brennan made a mockery of justice.

In 2005, The Wall Street Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and member of The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, investigated Father MacRae’s case and published a two-part series on the travesty of justice by which Father MacRae was convicted:  (Part I: The Trial of Father Gordon MacRae by Dorothy Rabinowitz, The Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2005; Part II: The Conviction of Father Gordon MacRae by Dorothy Rabinowitz, The Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2005). 
Again on May 11/12,  2013, the nation’s largest newspaper, The Wall Street Journal,  published another article by Dorothy Rabinowitz on Father MacRae’s case entitled, “TheTrials of  Father MacRae.”   Ms. Rabinowitz analyzed the issues and the new evidence  in the current appeal efforts.  She expressed concerns as to due process of the Catholic Church and the justice system. She says of Father MacRae:
            “He was convicted which was obligatory – as it remains today – to give credence to every 
              accuser charging a priest with molestation.”
     Most of the Catholic press has done nothing, and most priests have shunned this case.  The late Father Richard John Neuhaus wrote in First Things magazine that Father MacRae’s imprisonment was the result of “a Church and a justice system that seem indifferent to justice.”  The Catholic media has gone underground and refused to even try to interest the public in the notion that an accused priest could be innocent.

Ryan A. MacDonald is a writer who has done much research into Father MacRae’s case, and has written numerous articles about the case and the lack of help from the Diocese of Manchester, especially from Bishop John McCormack and Monsignor Edward Arsenault. MacDonald is amazed at the lack of coverage of Father MacRae’s case by the Catholic press. He points out that the Catholic press keeps covering the story of the scandal, but never mentions falsely accused priests struggling for justice in the courts and in the Church.  He says:
“I was hoping that the two-part post on These Stone Walls: “The Trial of Father MacRae: A Conspiracy of Fraud”and “The Prison of Father MacRae:  AConspiracy of Silence"  would prompt some viral spreading across the Catholic Internet. I want people to just be aware that this case exists.  I have sent links to many in the Catholic press with no response whatsoever.”



Some enterprising Jewish attorneys have taken on Father MacRae’s case. Where are the Catholic attorneys?  Appeals to two other New Hampshire courts were dismissed out of hand. Now the appeal is before the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire. Justice at every level seems to be slow and tedious.

The Catholic Church is an easy target for greedy lawyers and false claimants who have scored millions of dollars by simply accusing a priest – dead or alive.  Most of the claimants accused priests who died 30, 40 or even 50 years ago.  No proof was asked and none offered. Fraud is alive and well by those lawyers and claimants who commit it daily against priests. This aspect of the scandal is seriously neglected in the media.

Our Catholic bishops are discarding priests left and right, both the guilty and the innocent alike.  There is no longer any distinction between accusation and guilt.  When one understands the role of the contingent fee bar in sexual abuse litigation, it becomes a virtual certainty that some priests have been falsely accused for money.  The case of Father Gordon MacRae is profiled in his remarkable website: www.TheseStoneWalls.com. This site was a finalist in the About.com Readers' Choice Award for "Best Catholic Blog" in 2013. 
                                                                                  



To paraphrase the Gospel parable, this priest was beaten by robbers (accuser, bishop and jury) and left on the side of the road in our Church. For some Catholics, a growing number, no amount of shame, scorn, or ridicule can justify passing him by on that road. Amazingly, Father MacRae bears no malice toward anyone involved in sending him to prison. He forgave them long ago he says. He has brought Christ to many inmates in the New Hampshire State Prison and he will continue to do what the Lord asks of him – to minister to those most in need of God’s mercy.  He says that as a priest, he can do no less.

Recently one of Father MacRae’s readers posted a comment on the post, “the Trial of Father MacRae: A Conspiracy of Silence”:
“I heard something very disturbing about this case today. It was sent to me by a well known New Hampshire defense lawyer who is not directly involved in this.  This is a direct quote:  ‘New Hampshire has never had a case overturned on the basis of actual innocence, and doesn’t want to, and NH prosecutors and judges are doing everything possible to prevent it.’ In the light of the NH court’s refusal to hold a hearing on this case, and the NH Supreme Court’s refusal to even read it, I found this attorney’s remark to be shocking.”

This is both shocking and scary.  It is almost unthinkable that judges and prosecutors “are doing everything possible to prevent” having a case overturned on the basis of actual innocence.  What kind of people are these who are so committed to sending people to prison even if they are innocent. Surely there must be some in the New Hampshire court system who would welcome the release of a man based on his actual innocence.  One NH judge and prosecutors have already let this innocent priest rot in prison for 20 years despite the fact that his accuser was a known liar, who bragged after the trial as he showed off his ill-gotten money from the Diocese of Manchester. What kind of prosecuting attorneys and/or judges would want to prevent overturning a case on the basis of actual innocence?  


This is the priest against whom Monsignor Edward Arsenault and his prosecutorial friends have worked so arduously, and in secret, to undo and discard. Monsignor Arsenault recently was charged with fraud and is now in the same prison as Father MacRae.  In addition to the theft of money, he is also accused of having “an inappropriate relationship with an adult.” How the mighty have fallen.

Whatever the results of Father MacRae’s Appeal, he remains armed with the truth and his faith.  He refused plea bargains to face the cruelest of tyrannies, wrongful imprisonment. Let us pray that soon Father MacRae will be outside of Those Stone Walls that he writes about so superbly.  His virtual parishioners and those who love justice look forward to seeing him celebrate the Mass outside those stone walls, instead of in his cell where he celebrates Mass on Sunday nights.


                        Father Gordon J. MacRae – a living saint!


                                              SANTO SUBITO!!



                                                                 +++