Shoe Money Tonight

Occasional ramblings by an anesthesiologist/mother (and sometimes her husband).

Monday, August 13, 2007

No Confidence

Consider this my official declaration of no confidence in the Bishop of Buffalo, Edward Kmiec.

Last January, ES1 discussed her depression over the demise of our parish, St. Rose of Lima in this post. It was depressing, but inevitable. The local population is being driven out by high taxes and red tape. With fewer people, the diocese cannot support as many churches. There are 2 large churches which both lie a stone's throw away from St. Rose. St. Rose is a small parish. It's only logical that we would be on the chopping block.

If we had just been told that, we would have been able to accept it. We can handle the truth. The diocese, however, thinks otherwise.

We were told that the parish wasn't bringing in enough money. During the last Catholic Charities drive before the closing of the school, our donations dwarfed those of parishes 2 or 3 times our size. Our new pastor, who had refused to move into the rectory until it was repainted, announced that the parish was broke. He began a sermon by saying "We have only $8 in our checking account." What he neglected to mention is that there was plenty of money in the savings account. He simply hadn't bothered to make a transfer.

The most egregious deception, however, occurred at a school board meeting, approximately 1 week before the announcement of the closing of the school.

We know people who were on the schoolboard at St. Rose. At the meeting, they were spoken to by Kevin Keenan, the Director of Communications, and official diocesan spokesman. They were told that no decision would be made about their school until the end of the next school year. They had plenty of time.

The next week, we were told that we would be closing.

Never has there been any word from the diocese explaining their discrepancy. The diocese said that the parishes which were closing were doing so because of their own failures.

The Diocese of Buffalo deliberately lied to its parishioners, then attempted to cover themselves by deceiving the public.

Now, we have a new story.

According to WBEN, our local radio news station, there was a heated exchange between Bishop Kmiec and Bill Parks. Mr. Parks is the chairman of a group which is attempting to stop church closings. Both sides agree that there was a heated discussion. Parks alleges that Bishop Kmiec lost his temper and began to pummel him in the chest.

I do not know Mr. Parks. I was not present at the event. I generally give clergy the benefit of the doubt. Bishop Kmiec, however, has long since worn out any benefits I may have given him.

Nobody disagrees that there are too many churches for our current population. We need to close some of them. The logical candidates, of course, are the smaller ones.

What I object to is the deliberate obfuscation and deception by this diocese.

The overwhelming majority of priests I have encountered, especially Jesuits, are dedicated, hard working, wonderful men of God.

It has been known for years that the Catholic Church has had difficulty recruiting new priests. The greatest damage has not been the fact that they are stretched thin. The greatest damage is the fact that they have been forced to retain a few incompetents.

The priest who was sent to St. Rose would never be tolerated in a more vibrant parish. What the short-sighted diocese has failed to realize is that if you treat people this poorly, you will drive them away from the church. In an age in which you are having difficulty filling the pews, you cannot afford to have any but the best in the pulpit, even if that requires fewer pulpits.

People will cram into pews like sardines if they know the man at the altar is a man of faith and wisdom who will do everything in his power to bring you closer to God. People these days, however, are just too gorram busy to waste an hour listening to a self-righteous person who is only trying to cover his own backside.

This could have been an exercise in the Church coming together to deal with the harsh realities of today, while focusing on what is truly important. Instead, the diocese's "Journey of Faith and Grace" has been shrouded in secrecy and falsehoods. They refuse to answer questions. The Bishop then becomes violent towards those who confront him. The conclusion many will draw is that he could not win on the merit of his arguments.

Enough is enough. Our trust has been violated too many times. Our intelligence has been insulted too many times. The fact that a man has earned the title of "Father" does not mean he can treat parishioners like infants.

My faith in God, Jesus, and the Church as an institution is strong. My faith in our local leadership is gone. I cannot believe anything that comes out of the mouths of Edward Kmiec, or Kevin Keenan. This is an untenable situation.

The Catholics of Western New York deserve transparency. They deserve to be told the truth. They deserve to know the whole story of what is going on.

This diocese deserves better leadership. The time has come for a new Bishop and a thorough housecleaning.

Update: The diocese claims that Mr. Parks was looking for a confrontation, despite the fact that there is a photo of him and the bishop being friendly. At this point, if Kevin Keenan told me my face was on fire, I wouldn't believe it until I looked in a mirror.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just stumbled across your blog, and couldn't agree with you more about the leadership of the Buffalo Diocese. Kmiec & Regina Murphy are the worst things that ever happened to Western New York. I live on the East Side, which was decimated by the closings. Everyone involved at the parish level agrees the entire process was a complete sham.

9:35 PM  

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