Bullying Bishops: Reformers of the Reform


Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior using force or coercion to afflict others.

Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse – emotional, verbal, and physical. It can use subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation or not so subtle methods involving condemnation and punishment. It is always destructive and demeaning. Bullying has no place within the community of faith.

Bullying can range from simple one-to-one bullying to more complex institutionalized bullying in which the bully may have one or many “lieutenants” who assist the primary bully in his or her bullying activities.

Reviewing events of the past couple weeks, it is clear that contemporary Roman Catholic leadership in Rome, along with the Vatican’s lieutenants in the USCCB, have launched an aggressive program of Catholic bullying.

(1)Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky said during a Sunday homily at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, Illinois that President Obama is following previous governments that “tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches.”

“Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care,” the (Peoria) Journal Star and Chicago Tribune quoted Bishop Jenky as saying during the homily. “In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama – with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda – now seems intent on following a similar path.”

(2) SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the largest, oldest and most active support group for women and men wounded by religious authority figures (priests, ministers, bishops, deacons, nuns and others). It is an independent and confidential organization, with no connections with the church or church officials. SNAP is now being bullied and attacked by Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn and his lawyers. SNAP is fighting hard to protect the confidentiality of victims, witnesses, whistleblowers, police, prosecutors. Bishop Finn, by the way, is making other headlines these days as well.

The first criminal case against a sitting U.S. Catholic bishop in the decades-long clergy sex abuse crisis will go forward after a Missouri judge’s decision that Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, must stand trial on charges of failing to report suspected child abuse. The charge against Finn centers on the case of Fr. Shawn Ratigan, a diocesan priest who was arrested last May on charges of possession of child pornography. While the bishop said he was aware of questionable images on the priest’s laptop as early as December 2010, Ratigan was not reported to police by the diocese until May 2011.

In separate indictments in October, prosecutors charged both Finn and the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese as a whole with criminal misdemeanors in the case.

(3) The most outrageous case of current Roman Catholic hierarchical bullying of course is CDF Cardinal William Levada’s doctrinal “assessment” of LCWR, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

The leadership and members of LCWR, the largest leadership organization for U.S. women religious, are “stunned” by the announcement that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has ordered a reform its statutes and has appointed an American archbishop to oversee its revision.

“The presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was stunned by the conclusions of the doctrinal assessment of LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” LCWR said in a news release. “Because the leadership of LCWR has the custom of meeting annually with the staff of CDF in Rome and because the conference follows canonically-approved statutes, we were taken by surprise.”

The Vatican announced it had appointed Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain to oversee LCWR, which has been the subject of a doctrinal assessment by the Vatican congregation since 2009.

According to the document from the congregation, Archbishop Sartain is given authority over the group in five areas, including:

(1) Revising LCWR statutes;
(2) Reviewing LCWR plans and programs;
(3) Creating new programs for the organization;
(4) Reviewing and offering guidance on the application of liturgical texts; and
(5) Reviewing LCWR’s affiliations with other organizations, specifically NETWORK and the Resource Center for Religious Institutes.

The document from Cardinal Levada’s CDF re-emphasizes the reason for the doctrinal assessment, writing that Levada told LCWR leadership in 2008 that the congregation had three major areas of concern with the group:
(1) The content of speakers’ addresses at the annual LCWR assemblies;
(2) “Corporate dissent” in regarding the church’s sexual teachings;
(3) “A prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith” present in some of the organizations programs and presentations.

……………

Why Bishops Bully:

Bullying research indicates that adults who bully have personalities that are authoritarian, and they have a strong need to control or dominate. A prejudicial view of subordinates can also be a particularly strong factor.

Psychologists stress that a bully reflects the environment of his “home,” repeating the model he learned from his parents or superiors. In Roman Catholic history, we call this Roma locuta, causa finita: “Rome has spoken and the matter is closed.”

Bullying studies also show that envy and resentment are often key motives for bullying. Some bullies are arrogant and narcissistic. Others use bullying as a tool to conceal shame or anxiety or to boost self esteem: by demeaning others, the abuser him/herself feels empowered.

There is something terribly dysfunctional in Pope Benedict’s Reform of the Reform….I miss Pope Benedict’s enyclical: Deus caritas est! (GOD IS LOVE.)

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12 thoughts on “Bullying Bishops: Reformers of the Reform

  1. I feel sorry for kids who are bullied in church, school, or elsewhere. As adults, we can tell the bishops just were the F— they can get off. There’s no reason for any adult to take crap from these jerks. Above all, just stay away from them, and stop giving them money!

    • Catholic Belief and Practice??? Read the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd paragraph, but the 1st & 2nd paragraphs they say, Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior using force or coercion to afflict others.
      Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse – emotional, verbal, and physical. It can use subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation or not so subtle methods involving condemnation and punishment. It is always destructive and demeaning. Bullying has no place within the community of faith.
      This is being said by Daniel Jenky of Peoria who is over the school my daughter was attending and she was bullied, emotionally abused, verbally abused which resulted in physical emotional distress and her hair falling out. We sent a letter to Bishop Daniel Jenky after not getting any help from the Priest after several attempts and never heard back from Daniel Jenky. They do not practice what they preach. After what has happened to my daughter I can’t even walk into the Church. I am emotionally disturbed and sickened by what goes on in the schools and Catholic Churches. Also everyone whom I have gone to for help for my daughter was cold and wicked. These people are not spiritual and they are not Christians. True myself as a human cannot judge the heart of a human but by my experience with the school, Priest, Diocese, and not getting a response from Bishop Daniel Jenky formed my opinion of these cruel people. Not one of them have a heart or soul. Do not think your child is safe in a Catholic school. Not true!!!

  2. I really don’t think that the US Women’s Conference of Nuns was surprised by the Vatican Visitation and the resultant “Bullying” that followed. If you recall, several communities didn’t even want to participate. Others were belligerent and refused to cooperated with the questionnaires sent out. I don’t think the Vatican’s new directive is any “Surprise” at all. I think that it’s been expected and the proverbial shoe has dropped! What surprises me is that the Vatican didn’t give the nuns a list of penances that they would need to do or risk a good portion of eternity in the “Flames of Purgatory,” a nonexistent place that would have terrified nuns and really made them “Shape-up” in the 50’s! Unfortunately, most of the high-hatted clerics in the Vatican are still living in the ’50’s! Not the 1950’s! I mean the 1650’s!

    • You didn’t go back far enough. Try the 1550s, when the Council of Trent was in progress. As historians have written, the Council was a failure in reuniting the Church after the Protestant Reformation. Rather, the Council only succeeded in reinforcing the siege mentality of the Popes and Cardinals. In his history of the Council, “Istoria del Concilio,” Paoli Sarpi recounts an anecdote that made the rounds at that time. “If the Holy Spirit guided the Council, it must have traveled in a dispatch box between Rome and Trent.”

  3. If each Congregation of Nuns wanted to hit the Vatican’s High-hats under the belt, all they would need to do is to start a run on the IOR, the Vatican Bank! If the nuns took their pensions and hard earned money out of the Vatican Bank, at least it would be safer in another financial institution. (Google: Vatileaks and the Vatican Bank Scandal) I encourage all Women’s Congregations to get their money OUT of the IOR, before Mens’ Congregations have the insight to do so!

  4. What a sad state our church is in when the pope and bishops can’t keep their own from sexually abusing innocent children and vulnerable adults, so now they feel the need to attack the sisters who are the ones living the gospel. Maybe if they tried doing so themselves, they wouldn’t feel the need to attack those who are. You know…it will be difficult to remove the splinter from the sisters’ eyes because the plank in their own gets in the way.

  5. What you and your commentators fail to ackowledge is that a church is different from other social organizations, as it is built on religious belief. Different churches have different polities. The Roman Catholic Church is hierarchical. You may not like that, and you don’t have to put up with it. There are many fine Protestant churches in which you and others who object to “totalitarians” making the decisions are asked to vote – for clergy, for bishops (if any) and on matters of doctrine. You can worship Jesus without the pope and the bishops; you just can’t do that and also call yourself Roman Catholic. For both kinds of churches, the ecclesiastical polity is, itself, a matter of religious doctrine. Objecting to the pope making doctrinal decisions and to the bishops enforcing Catholic doctrine as a form of “bullying” is no more than objecting to Catholicism itself.
    And, shame on gabe0712 for trying to use the child sex abuse scandal as some kind of universal answer to anything the bishops say. That is nothing more than name calling. Talk about bullying!!

    • Chicagoatty, really? Shame on you!!! If you only know what my daughter has gone through in the Catholic school you wouldn’t even be making a comment, but then maybe with the mentality of Bishop Jenky you would. I am outraged by the abuse my daughter went through and yes I will bring up abuse. When some kind of abuse happens to you or someone you love in the Catholic Church you’ll know how and why people bring up the abuse issue. How dare you defend dirty, filthy acts. Dirty, filthy, shame on you.

  6. I was raised Catholic and believe that the influence of my nuns and priests provided me with guidance I never found anywhere else, including home. I consider myself a Catholic but I doubt that many priests or bishops would. I gave up Mass some years ago after hearing a scathing homily about homosexuality. I know and love several men and women who are gay and were Catholic only to be turned out, not by God, but my their priests. I know and love women who have had to make horrible, heart-wrenching decision that no priest or bishop could ever understand, and who are no alienated from the church they loved. I just can’t believe that this is God’s way. I am convinced to the depths of my soul that God loves all of His creation,knows us and forgives us. I’m sure that’s what I learned growing up in a Catholic parish. I fear extremes of any kind, and coercion of all kinds. God knows me and I know him, but I don’t recognize my Church anymore.

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