The Not-So-Missing Link
The most recent column by Mark Abbott of Renew America is devoted in its entirety to an essay by Father James Farfaglia, a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas. Farfaglia contends there is a link between the chaotic state of sacred worship, and the scandal of clerical sexual abuse. There are those who would take issue with his defense of the liturgical reform as officially implemented, citing problems inherent in the reform itself -- you know, that whole "reform of the reform" thing. Still, he gives a well-constructed overview of the situation, and provides a recommended reading list.
The good Father also tells us of the contention he witnessed in the parish of his youth, in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut. But what is particularly troubling is his conversation as a young priest in 1988 with then-Bishop Walter Curtis of Bridgeport:
As I told Bishop Curtis that I was from Ridgefield, I sensed from his reaction he was only too well aware of this sad history. He looked embarrassed.
Bishop Curtis died in 1997. He had attended the entire Second Vatican Council and was known as an excellent orthodox moral theologian. Why, then, did his diocese fall apart after the council? Why is the Diocese of Bridgeport, like most of the dioceses in the Northeast, still an epicenter of clergy sexual and financial scandals, parish closings, and continual bizarre liturgical abuses?
Here's the answer.
At the end of our meeting as we stood at the threshold of his office door, Bishop Curtis turned to me and said: "Well, Jim, I never thought that it was my place to tell my priests what to do."
Farfaglia also defends the state of affairs in his current diocese of Corpus Christi, giving credit in large part to the work of former Bishop Rene Gracida. Now, this could be nothing, but I remember in the late 1980s seeing a picture of Bishop Gracida being attended by female altar servers. This would have been some years before their approval. (Funny how you remember little things like that, isn't it?) I realize that bishops are known to visit situations where things occur beyond their control, and have to keep smiling anyway. At least until the crowd leaves.
Like I said, this could be nothing.