Thursday, November 14, 2013

Accuser of The Brethren

I have done several posts about Michael Voris and how I feel he has crossed the line. I find him to be more and more dangerous to the Catholic faithful. I know that is a very heavy accusation, but I feel it needs to be said. And Christine, please don't bother posting any comments because I won't publish them. You would defend Michael Voris no matter what, and you shed absolutely no light on anything.

Michael Voris recently did a Vortex episode entitled, "Pendulum Swinging Back."  You can watch the entire episode here.  Voris quoted from a Washington Post article which cites Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida.  The quote from Bishop Lynch used in the Post article and cited by Voris is:  “The pendulum has begun to shift back and how long it will continue to do so, well that is up to the Holy Spirit. For the moment, I find all this absolutely amazing..”

Voris mentions that Bishop Lynch wrote this comment on his blog.  However, Voris does not provide a link to the blog so that we can read the quote in context.  Unlike Voris, I will give you the link to the blog post, which is here.  The only links given by Voris are two very biased blog posts which denounce the Bishop.


Even though Bishop Lynch's blog post gives the full explanation of this quote, Voris still asks:
What an odd thing for His Excellency to say. Shift back to WHERE, exactly? Shift back FROM where, exactly? And whatever accounts for the “shifting”, can we really attribute it to the Holy Spirit as Bishop Lynch seems so enthused to do? 
I can only assume Voris does not give the link to Bishop Lynch's blog because if anyone actually read the words of His Excellency, he or she would know how underhanded Voris is in his treatment of the Bishop. Voris defends excoriating the Bishop with these words: "When a bishop talks like that, it’s fair game to try and understand exactly what he means. After all, in this age of murky comments and massive lack of clarity, it seems only fair the faithful should understand what is trying to be conveyed." In other words, let's not hear what the Bishop has to say. Let's just put words in his mouth.

Bishop Lynch wrote his blog post in response to the two interviews given by Pope Francis which caused a tremendous amount of controversy. Bishop Lynch made a statement that is directly in line with the statements of Pope Francis: "Quite frankly we are losing membership not because of the presence of the truth but because of the absence of mercy." He then quotes Pope Francis' statement describing the Church as a field hospital after battle.

Bishop Lynch laments in his post that the Church has largely abandoned the vision set forth in the documents from Vatican II, specifically “Lumen Gentium” and “Gaudium et Spes”.  His Excellency feels that we have only paid lip service to these documents.  Bishop Lynch summarizes this sentiment by saying that we now have "a Church that seems to have lost the notion that Jesus spent more of his time with sinners, the poor, blind, and the lame and with outcasts than with those who might have had the influence to help him spread his message the most."

Bishop Lynch goes on to use a phrase that has become a hot button for Traditionalists: "seamless garment." Many traditionalists react violently when they hear these words, which originated with the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, a frequent target of traditionalists, because they interpret the term "seamless garment" to mean that the Church places no more importance on such issues as abortion than on poverty. My argument is that one often leads to the other and, therefore, they are both of great importance. But that is for another time.

From Bishop Lynch:
I served a church when its episcopal leadership were pastors, before their ordination as bishops and after as well. They envisioned the Church as sharing common ground with many others, advocating a seamless garment in promoting the life issues, ardent advocates for social justice for all people, prophets for peace, worshipping in our common language and with a greater simplicity and passionate but not strident. Somewhere along the line, we lost this vision. Now, in this amazing interview, Pope Francis is once again raising the specter of hope that what has begun fifty years ago this month will continue over time. The pendulum has begun to shift back and how long it will continue to do so, well that is up to the Holy Spirit. For the moment, I find all this absolutely amazing. 
Bishop Lynch is telling us he feels the Church has lost the vision of Vatican II, going far astray from what was proposed at the Council, but he now feels that Pope Francis has given us a "specter of hope" that the true meaning and intention of Vatican II can be regained by the Church.  And that is what he finds "absolutely amazing."

This most likely will not satisfy many traditionalists because they for the most part reject Vatican II. However, Cardinal Kurt Koch wrote an interesting essay in which he talked about those who view Vatican II as a "hermeneutic of rupture."  From catholicculture.org:
In an essay published in L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity wrote that “two extreme tendencies” – the progressive and the traditionalist – see the Second Vatican Council as a rupture rather than as “part of the living tradition” of the Church.
Far left liberals feel the Catholic Church was essentially a sham before Vatican II, that it was a time when the Church hierarchy oppressed the laity, especially women who were basically just a step above slaves. Extreme right traditionalists feel that the Church has more or less ceased to exist after Vatican II, and that the Church is now run by a sham hierarchy that wants to blend in with all other world religions by throwing away everything that is authentically Catholic. (Michael Voris and this Vortex episode are prime examples of this.) Both views are just two sides of the same coin, and as Cardinal Koch wrote, these are extremist views which must be rejected because, as His Eminence explained, they see Vatican II "as a rupture rather than as part of the living tradition of the Church." Below is a Google translation of the essay by Cardinal Koch, which can be found here:
It is therefore no coincidence that these two extreme tendencies, already on a linguistic level, agree on making a distinction between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church, as if the Church was no longer the same before and after the council. The difference between the two trends is that while the progressive emphatically supports a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture, the traditionalist favors hermeneutic of simple, ahistorical continuity, but in reference to the Second Vatican Council, is revealed also a hermeneutic of rupture. From both perspectives, the Vatican is no longer considered as part of the living tradition of the Church, existed until then, but as its end.
Therefore, according to Cardinal Koch, Pope Francis and the Magesterium of the Church, if you see Vatican II as a rupture, you are rejecting the Church because, as Cardinal Koch explains, it is "part of the living tradition of the Church."

Back to Voris, who now begins a litany of accusations against Bishop Robert Lynch.  In what I feel is a truly despicable act, Voris spends the entire Vortex episode airing what he considers to be the dirty laundry of Bishop Lynch, all unproven, unverified and false, as I will show.

The first accusation against the Bishop:
Bishop Lynch is the same bishop who the pro-life movement accused of abandoning Terri Schiavo during the long drawn out court battle back in 2005 as her husband denied her family’s wishes and was eventually able to have her legally starved to death. This after the husband, Michael, was already living with another woman with whom he had two children.
Voris couches his words by saying "the pro life movement accused" Bishop Lynch.  Voris knows better than to make a direct accusation because he knows it isn't true.  From an August 24, 2003 article (almost 2 years before Terri Schiavo was killed) in the National Catholic Register entitled, "Terri Schiavo’s Bishop Warns Against Removing Feeding Tube":
A day after the bishop of St. Petersburg, stated that removal of a feeding tube from a 39-year-old Florida woman who suffered severe brain damage in 1990 cannot be justified at this time by Church teaching, the woman, Terri Schiavo, was moved from a nursing home to a hospital under emergency medical circumstances.
To be fair, the article goes on to state:
Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, the diocese in which Terri Schiavo has been residing, in a long-awaited statement Aug. 12 called the situation “tragic,” noting that medical experts disagree about Schiavo's condition and chance of improvement.
Stating that Catholic teaching advises “presumption in favor of providing medically assisted nutrition and hydration to all patients as long as it is of sufficient benefit to outweigh the burden involved to the patient,” the bishop “strongly recommend[ed]” that both Schiavo's husband and her parents seek “a clearer understanding of her actual physical condition.”
Her parents should be allowed to pursue medical therapy that may improve her condition, he said. The statement leaves open the possibility of licitly removing the tube after further study.
Bishop Lynch added that it is “a much harder case” than many imagine and warned against “excessive rhetoric” such as using the word “murder” or calling the trial judges “murderers.”
Although Bishop Lynch did not come out as strongly against the forced removal of Terry Schiavo's feeding tube as many of us would have liked, this is hardly equal to "abandoning" Terri Schiavo.  As the article goes on to further state:
In his statement Bishop Lynch said Catholic teaching does allow a feeding tube to be “withheld or withdrawn where that treatment itself is causing harm to the patient or is useless because the patient's death is imminent, as long as the patient is made comfortable.”
In Schiavo's case, he said, “it is not clear whether [the feeding tube] is delaying her dying process to no avail, is unreasonably burdensome for her and contrary to what she would wish if she could tell us.” If the feeding is not helping her “or it is unreasonably burdensome for her and her family or her caregivers,” it “could be seen as permissible” to remove the tube, he wrote.
Yet, he added, if the tube is removed “simply because she is not dying quickly enough and some believe she would be better off because of her low quality of life, this would be wrong.”
I personally think Bishop Lynch should have come out much stronger in his statement that it is wrong to withdraw food and water from anyone, as Pope John Paul II did in 2005 shortly before he died. But Michael Voris is going beyond the pale when he makes this statement:
That Bishop Lynch, in whose diocese the drama played out, would have so clearly sided with the husband was beyond shocking to not just pro-lifers in general, but also to Terri’s parents and brother Bobby Schindler as well.
In my opinion, Terri Schiavo was murdered by the state. It was unconscionable that her feeding tube was removed and that she was slowly starved to death. Although it could be argued that Bishop Lynch was trying to play the impartial middle ground, he most definitely did not "clearly side with the husband" as Voris states.

Voris then accuses the bishop of the following:
Following the starvation death of Terri and supporting it [a totally false and slanderous statement on the part of Voris], Bishop Lynch then sanctioned the marriage of Michael Schiavo and his former concubine.
This statement makes it seem that Bishop Lynch was right there cheering on Michael Schiavo, both in the killing of Terri Schiavo and in Michael Schiavo's marriage after the death of his wife. Michael Schiavo had every right to marry after the death of Terry Schiavo. It could most definitely be morally argued that he caused the death of his wife, but Michael Schiavo went through the courts and did everything legally. The entire situation makes my skin crawl, but since Terri Schiavo had died, Michael Schiavo was free to remarry and provide a home for his two children. There was nothing the bishop could do to stop Michael Schiavo from marrying.

The next accusation from Voris:
But even prior to this infamous set of circumstances, Bishop Lynch was making a name for himself among faithful and concerned Catholics in his local diocese. He issued a declaration against perpetual exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in his parishes, allowing only worship of the Eucharist reserved in tabernacles [another untrue statement].

For parishes that wish to inaugurate adoration of the Blessed Sacrament the Bishop said they should quote - “reflect on… their commitment of time and money to social services.” Among reflections he offered to the faithful - they should ask, “Does the eucharistic bread look like bread?”
This is way off the charts.  You can read the Bishop's entire document on this subject here.  Review of the bishops's document shows just how false Voris's statements are.

Bishop Lynch, contrary to the innuendo expressed by Voris, explains that prayer before the Blessed Sacrament is very important:
Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament has long been encouraged by the Church. The Church teaches that prayer is essential for Christian spirituality and calls us to set aside time for private prayer. Therefore, the Church asserts that prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament is a privileged time, a time when we speak to and respond to the prompting of the eucharistic Lord in our hearts. Just as our Lord needed time to be alone in prayer, so too, do we. Pope Paul VI emphasized this by saying, “visiting the eucharistic Lord is a proof of gratitude, a pledge of love, a service of adoration owed to the Lord present there” (Mysterium Fidei, no. 66). 
Bishop Lynch explains what Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is:
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, in contrast to adoration, refers to the public display of the Blessed Sacrament in either a monstrance or a ciborium. It is part of a liturgical rite, therefore, the directives for exposition are explicit and outlined in Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass (HCWEOM, nos. 82-100), in liturgical directives, and in instructions from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The clear intention of these documents is that exposition has a beginning and an end. By its very nature, it is not perpetual. According to HCWEOM, no.95, exposition should involve music, reading(s) from sacred Scripture, preaching, intercessory prayer, time for private prayer/adoration, and conclude with a special blessing of the faithful.
The Bishop goes on to explain that there can be annual solemn exposition which can last for for an extended period (one or more days), or there can be brief periods of exposition, contrary to Voris's accusation that the Bishop did not allow this:
The Church gives allowance for briefer periods of exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, perhaps monthly or weekly for a fixed period of time. Because the Eucharist is being exposed in a monstrance or ciborium, it is a ritual of the Church and the directives of HCWEOM (nos. 93-100) and the liturgical norms established by the Church are to be strictly followed.
Bishop's Lynch concern was about perpetual adoration, which can only be done under special circumstances, and he felt that these circumstances did not exist in his diocese. I have personally experienced this in that there have been more times than I can count when I have gone into an adoration chapel or a church where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, and no one else is there. It is wrong to expose the Blessed Sacrament and then just walk away without regard to proper reverence. Bishop Lynch rightfully did not want this happening in his diocese.
The issue of “perpetual” exposition (i.e., 365 days, 24 hours a day) of the Eucharist is being advocated by some within the Church. Because perpetual exposition is a devotional practice of a religious community or a pious association that observes this according to their constitution, it should normally take place in a chapel of that religious community or association (Congregation for Divine Worship, July 1995). Neither of these exist in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. The general understanding of the Church is that this type of exposition is not to be the normal and continuous pattern in the parish. Parishes seeking dispensation from this rule must petition the Bishop and show good reason for its need. They also will need to show that they have attended to the primary form of Eucharistic activity—Sunday Eucharist.
Following is the full quote from Bishop Lynch from which Voris masterfully extracted a few comments, making it seem that Bishop Lynch was more concerned about money and the physical appearance of the Eucharist than adoration.  Bishop Lynch's real concern is that the faithful are reverent and respectful in the celebration of Mass and also in their stewardship as Christians towards the community:
Although exposition of the Blessed Sacrament may help foster devotion to Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, a parish’s first priority is well-planned and well-celebrated Masses. Parishes seeking to inaugurate or restore eucharistic devotions should reflect on their practices during the communion rite and their commitment of time and money (stewardship) to social services. Are they as respectful and reverent toward Christ’s presence in the gathered Body, the Church, as they are to the presence of Christ in the Sacrament? Is the fuller expression of the Eucharist under the forms of bread and wine being offered to the faithful at all Masses? Does the eucharistic bread look like bread? Does the parish carefully prepare enough communion for the gathered assembly instead of routinely going to the tabernacle? Does the eucharistic procession take its own time or is the focus to try to get through the communion rite as efficiently and expediently as possible? Do the eucharistic ministers reflect the parish, i.e., inclusive of age, ethnicity, and gender? Have the eucharistic ministers been properly trained and is their formation ongoing? Is the Eucharist being brought to members of the parish who cannot gather on Sunday because of sickness or advanced age? When these issues have been addressed, then the deeper understanding of communion that Christ intended in the Eucharist will be achieved.
It should be noted that there is exposition and adoration throughout the diocese of St. Petersburg.  One glowing example of this is at St. Mark the Evangelist Church in Tampa: Monday - Thursday: 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM (except for Holidays); Friday: 9:00 AM -5:00 PM (1st Fridays of the month).  You can go to their website here where they ask people to sign up for a time slot.  This is only one of many churches in the diocese that has exposition.  Michael Voris is clearly being disingenuous in his accusation.

But Voris is not done:
But he also had to fend off accusations and pay off a former diocesan employee, a man noted by the local press for his “muscular frame” when the man came forward and accused bishop lynch of sexually harassing him by making him stay in the same hotel rooms when they were traveling and at one point grabbing his inner thigh on a car ride. Bishop Lynch, in eventually paying off William Urbanski $100,000, said it was all a misunderstanding .. that they had been friends for a while and nothing was meant by it.
Voris tells us nothing of the circumstances and who William Urbanski is.  You can go here to an article by the St. Petersburg Times which gives background information on this terrible accusation.  According to the article, when people who knew Urbanski heard about his allegations against the bishop, it was nothing new to them:
Urbanski, who had spoken so fondly of his job as top spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, was on TV accusing his former boss and close friend, Bishop Robert N. Lynch, of sexual harassment.
Among Urbanski's friends and coworkers, the unfolding drama had a ring of familiarity. There he was again, embroiled in the sort of controversies that had muddled his life before: an on-the-job harassment issue; an unhappy departure that involved a financial settlement; issues of machismo and virility.
The article goes on to explain that Urbanski, who came from a wealthy, influential family, had threatened a previous employer, the Tampa Coliseum, with lawsuits and allegations when his job was on the line:
By 1992, funds were tight at Tampa Coliseum. Executives made it known they would have to cut a few positions. When Urbanski asked [Marc] Ganis [Urbanski's boss] if his job was secure, Ganis gave him no guarantee.
Shortly afterward, Ganis said, Urbanski came to his office with a demand for money. As Ganis remembers it, Urbanski told him he had learned that executives had spent the down payments people had paid for arena seats. Ganis acknowledges spending some of the money, but only on appropriate expenses.
According to Ganis, Urbanski threatened to take his influential father to the Tampa Sports Authority and urge them to "kill the deal" unless Ganis agreed to pay him six months' severance, about $10,000. In an interview in the Tampa Tribune, Urbanski flatly denied this.
Ganis had no intention of paying Urbanski the "blood money," he said, and considered reporting Urbanski to the state attorney for extortion. But Ganis said he dropped the idea after another partner in the project spoke with Urbanski's father.
Urbanski then got married and began his own company. According to the article:
Urbanski let his partners know he came from money. He would drop names of people he knew and spoke of dining at the yacht club. "He used to mention the bishop all the time," Rita Von Pusch said.
He pouted when he didn't get his way, she said. "He's a spoiled little rich kid."
Urbanski's partners eventually bailed out of the company and lost about $80,000.

The article states that Urbanski went on to become spokesman for the Diocese of St. Petersburg:
When Urbanski became spokesman for the Diocese of St. Petersburg 4-1/2 years ago, it was the best job he had ever had. He earned $60,000 a year. The job was a highly visible one that included speaking on the bishop's behalf, traveling with him, creating a new format for the diocesan radio station, Spirit FM, and supervising two other employees.
He beat out Mary Jo Murphy for the position, a woman 20 years his senior who had worked in the diocese's communications department since 1990.
Murphy said she quickly got over the disappointment of not getting the job, but her relationship with Urbanski was tense for a year or so for other reasons.
Urbanski, she said, often told sexually explicit jokes to her.
"I'm just not used to that," said Murphy, 62. "I'm a lady, and I'm not used to it."
Murphy perused the diocese's harassment policy and found that sexual jokes apply. She confronted Urbanski, echoing the words of the Apostle Paul, who cautioned Christians to keep their minds on things holy.
"Go to the Bible and see what Paul says about things you should think on," Murphy told him.
Urbanski told her he was sorry. The jokes stopped, and their relationship improved. From then on, "he was pleasant enough to work with," she said. "He always let me do what I needed to do."
The article describes the allegations of William Urbanski against Bishop Lynch and the fact that the Diocese paid $100,000 to Urbanski in settlement without going to court.

From a March 23, 2002 article by the St. Petersburg Times reporting on a press conference with Bishop Lynch:
Lynch appeared at a news conference Friday to calmly deny that he had ever made improper advances toward former diocesan spokesman Bill Urbanski. Lynch and his lawyer also insisted that the payment to Urbanski represented severance as Urbanski left his job -- not a settlement or admission of the harassment claims.
Seated at a small table in the diocese's Pastoral Center, Lynch read from a prepared statement in a strong, clear voice.
"I have always denied the substance of the harassment allegation and I continue to do so this afternoon, strenuously," Lynch told a room filled with cameras, 18 priests and reporters.
The denial was followed by an outpouring of support from priests, from throughout the five-county diocese, who insist they could not envision the 60-year-old Lynch making improper advances. It comes as the Catholic Church nationally is swept by scandals involving priests molesting young men and boys.
Lynch's accuser, the 42-year-old Urbanski, was a friend and colleague until he complained about the bishop's conduct last August. It was the first time, Lynch said, that Urbanski had mentioned feeling uncomfortable in his presence.
Diocesan attorney Joe DiVito convened a panel to investigate the claims, and he and the other members interviewed Urbanski and witnesses, whose names Urbanski provided, between August and November.
DiVito said they also notified Archbishop John Favalora of Miami, who oversees the St. Petersburg diocese, home to 371,714 practicing Catholics in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.
"We spoke with all of those individuals (named by Urbanski), none of whom substantiated the allegations," DiVito said. "We concluded . . . that there was nothing to substantiate those allegations. We spoke with his attorney and attempted to restructure his position so that he would not be reporting directly under Bishop Lynch. He refused that restructuring and said that he would be leaving. We then entered into a negotiation for a severance with his attorney."
Urbanski, who agreed not to sue Lynch or the diocese as a condition of accepting the money, said Friday that he stands by his complaint and his belief that Lynch harassed him.
I work in law offices and know that companies will often pay out settlements for what they call "nuisance" cases because it is easier and less expensive than trying it through the courts. This is obviously what happened in the case with Bishop Lynch. Urbanski had a history of trying to extort money from employers. He had a history of inappropriate conduct.  If he had been truly wronged, would he really have accepted this money with the condition to not sue the Diocese?  But Michael Voris doesn't tell us any of this. He just throws out the allegations with no background whatsoever, putting the bishop in the worst possible light, and a false light at that.

But Voris is still not done:
Which if it [the Urbanski incident] was a singular type incident .. would be one thing. But in the midst of all this, other news came out that another very handsome muscular man was also a close associate of the bishop – traveling with him to such places as Key West and San Francisco. This man, David Herman, was the recipient of close to 30-million dollars in construction projects awarded specifically by the diocese and the bishop especially without any other bids being sought.

Voris is making a vicious accusation with no real basis in anything.  Neither David Herman nor anyone else have ever intimated that there is or was an inappropriate relationship between them.  This is truly libelous, in my opinion, for Voris to make such statements with no proof whatsoever.

So what is Voris's point in making these terrible unfounded and false accusations against Bishop Lynch:
So when we look at all these in total, the banning of perpetual exposition in parishes, the near omni-presence of handsome muscular men (each were tri-athletes) with whom he traveled frequently, the Terri Schiavo debacle, the blessing of the marriage of Terri’s husband and a spate of comments and blog postings about the need for social justice and so forth – a buzz word for many modernist activities in the Church .. now we can step back and ask the question – What does Bishop Lynch mean when he says he sees the pendulum swinging back. Back to what? These – what the media terms – bimbo eruptions – and the Terri Schiavo case all happened back in the late 90s and early 2000’s – before Pope Benedict was elected.

Is this the era to which Bishop Lynch sees the pendulum swinging back, God forbid?
If Michael Voris were ever to bring a case like this to court, it would be immediately thrown out as circumstantial and a frivolous prosecution with no basis for an action. So why does Voris engage in this kind of slander against the ones anointed to guide and protect the people of God? At the beginning of this post, I made a very harsh statement that Michael Voris is dangerous to the Catholic faithful. Programs like this Vortex episode, which seems to have no other point than to destroy a Catholic bishop, are a prime example of just how dangerous Michael Voris truly is and why he is shunned by many in the Catholic establishment.

Take a look at this very moving video made on the Eucharist made in 2009, and then tell me that Bishop Lynch deserves the disrespectful and deceitful treatment he received from Michael Voris.


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