Monday, October 1, 2007

Toledo Area Priest Named a 'Priest of Integrity' Bishop Disagrees

The medieval hierarchy of the Catholic Church is again in the spotlight here in Toledo. The very conservative bishop of Toledo, Leonard Blair, has been battling priests in his diocese who speak out on injustice issues. After all, the only 'justice' that the Catholic hierarchy recognizes is the muzzling of vocal critics of the institution. Seems that the Catholic Church has been doing that ever since they muzzled Galileo for suggesting that the earth revolves around the sun. He recanted that wild idea.

According to The Blade, "Rev. Stephen Stanbery has railed against sexual abuse, parish closings, and an alleged murder cover-up involving the Catholic Church." The article goes on: "In its announcement of the award winners, Voice of the Faithful said Father Stanbery has "been on a continuing crusade for integrity and transparency in his diocese since the sex scandals became apparent in 2002. He has worked tirelessly to root out the evil in the [alleged] coverup of a murder probe of a slain Catholic nun, clergy sexual abuse cases, closed parishes, and financial impropriety. He participated in the Oscar-nominated documentary Twist of Faith."

Catholic priests ought to know better than to open the large wooden doors of the Church and expose the secrets hiding inside; that is strictly forbidden by the oh-so righteous hierarchy who are masters of the Good Old Boys' Club.

The truths that Stanbery exposed, says Claudia Vercellotti, co-coordinator of the local chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are secrets that the church does not want the faithful to know. According to Vercellotti, "Bishop Blair sent Father Stanbery a letter last month that "declares that Father Stanbery will not publicly challenge the bishop."He's been formally admonished and censured," Ms. Vercellotti said. "The reason he's being honored nationally as a model priest is the exact same reason the hammer has come down so hard on him in Toledo."

It is interesting to note that only two priests attended the one-time showing of Twist of Faith* the story of priest sexual abuse in the Toledo Diocese. One was Fr. Stanbery and the other was recently ousted pastor Fr. Tom Leyland. Leyland spoke out against the bishop several months ago about the slicing up of St. Rose Parish for the newly formed suburban parish. As a result of this insolence, Leyland was transferred to a small parish on the outskirts of the diocese. Leyland retired rather than being punished by the bishop. Bishop Blair was embarrassed when the replacement for Leyland confessed to having had a sexual relationship, thus breaking the vow of celibacy.

I would imagine that the Catholic hierarchy will continue to have incidents like these because they will not change, will not tolerate any fresh air to get into the closed chambers in which they live. As a result, more and more 'faithful' will leave because of that hypocrisy, taking their donations elsewhere. This loss of revenue has already hit the diocese and has forced them to downsize many of their departments.

Yet, there will be no change: they will batten down the hatches and hope to ride it out until all of the moderate and liberal Catholics have left the church. The conservative 'faithful' will remain and then, at last, the hierarchy will be free to operate in their medieval majesty once again.

* because of enormous pressure applied to theater owners in the Toledo area by the Catholic Church, Twist of Faith was never again shown in Toledo theaters.

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