Tag Archives: priest

Murder of a priest

Fr Kenneth Walker FSSP

The death of a son of God is always a loss for the Body of Christ, especially the Church Militant on earth. The murder of a young, and by reports a brilliant priest is quite tragic. You might want to listen to this homily by Father Walker on mercy and justice.

Let us pray for all, victim and the perpetrator.

The community to which the young Father Walker issued this statement:

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter mourns the death of Rev. Kenneth Walker, FSSP, who was murdered on June 11, 2014 at the Rectory of Mater Misericordiae Parish in Phoenix, Arizona, where he served as assistant priest. He was dearly loved by the faithful he served and his confreres in the Fraternity.

Fr. Joseph Terra was also injured in the assault; he is hospitalized and in critical but stable condition. We ask for your prayers for the health of Fr. Terra.

Fr. Walker was ordained a priest in 2012, and was 28 years old. Prayer intentions, letters and gifts of condolence, and memorials for Fr. Walker’s family may be sent via the Community of St. John-Marie Vianney:

Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Walker
c/o St. John Vianney Chapel
14611B Waterman Crossing Road
Maple Hill, KS 66507

We ask for your prayers for the repose of the soul of Fr. Walker and that God might grant great consolation to his family and his parishioners in this terrible tragedy.


O God, Who didst give to thy servant, Kenneth, by his sacerdotal office, a share in the priesthood of the Apostles, grant, we implore, that he may also be one of their company forever in Heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Requiem Aeternam dona ei, Domine.
Et lux perpetua luceat ei.
Requiescat in pace.

The parish priest is the priest of all

AlberioneA friend of min who is a religious of the Daughters of St Paul brought to my attention that a 100 years ago, their founder, Blessed James Alberione, was talking about the ministry of the parish priest. Perhaps Pope Francis is reading the work of Blessed James. The diocesan priesthood is in very great need of reform. So much dysfunction and a lack of good formation in-and-out of seminaries. Look at the fact that so many priests do not know their people (Catholic and otherwise in their area), are not following a spiritual discipline of lectio divina, praying the Divine Office, making a daily hour, making an annual directed retreat, monthly spiritual direction, etc. Never mind that there is still an acceptance of priests and bishops having girlfriends and boyfriends, using and dealing drugs, and being accused of unwanted sexual advancements on adults or children. If you do not believe me, read the papers, get to know the substance of parish priests.

In recent years lots of seminaries have changed their formation program for the better, BUT Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have been calling the church to a new way of being a priest that is healthy and oriented toward to Christ the Good Shepherd. If you don believe me, start reading papal homilies and allocutions. For many priests that I know this is not new news, but there are problems at a deeper level yet to be revealed and dealt with.

The following comes from Alberione’s 1913 textbook for pastoral theology (Pastoral Theology Notes):

“The parish priest should not busy hims only with a small flock of devout souls, with retreats, pilgrim hostels, hospitals…while in the meantime there is a great number of souls, especially the neediest who either don’t even know who the pastor is, or only know him by name or by sight: they are the working masses, the women laborers, the upper class, the most miserable of the poor: those to whom Jesus Christ would have approached the most often.”

The parish priest is the priest of all of them; and he must even leave the ninety-nine secure sheep to track down the one that is lost: how much more when the secure sheep are a ‘little flock’ and the lost are the majority!”

What I have given above by James Alberione is but one point of reflection for all of us. For more on the subject and on the Pauline charism can be found here with the Superior General of the Society of St. Paul, Father Silvio Sassi in a essay the speaks about the gift, the fidelity of following Blessed James Alberione. Father Sassi’s essay worth reading can be found here.

Gay men and the priesthood: change in content, or difference in style?

This morning a friend asked me about Pope Francis’ statement on the plane ride to Rome coming from Brazil about gay men and the priesthood: did the pope change the Church’s teaching? No, was my reply. The teaching is not changed as the Pope echoed what the Catechism teaches. What the Pope did, I told Harry, was to emphasize a pastoral approach of mercy and helping each person attain a mature Christian faith, and that the Church has always held this approach but frequently gets forgotten due the subject. The approach of Pope Francis is to speak about the merciful face of Jesus Christ; but I have to say, Benedict also said as much but he was often roundly dismissed because of some people’s ideology. Hence, there is a line of continuity in the teaching and style of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI. I don’t see the hard differences between the two.

Aaron Taylor wrote the following piece, “Francis and Benedict on gay priests,” for On the Square published online at First Things (7 August 2013). Taylor’s piece is a short but good piece covering the basic matters at hand; gives perspective that can’t be dismissed. I recommend the article.

Given the ruckus over Pope Francis’ comments on homosexuality, one could make the mistake of thinking he had announced a revolutionary change, not restated basic Christian doctrine:

If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person? . . . These persons must never be marginalized, and “they must be integrated into society.” The problem is not that one has this tendency. No, we must be brothers.

While the substance is old as the Gospel, the form is not what we are used to. Secular journalists are likely to see an irreconcilable contradiction between the Pope who made these comments and the Cardinal who warned that same-sex marriage is a “total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts,” a “move by the father of lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

Yet Christians ought to see no contradiction between a robust commitment to defending the dignity of all people, including gays and lesbians, and a robust commitment to opposing sexual sin. In both instances, Francis was simply doing what he does best: stating basic truths in blunt, common-sense words that everyone can understand.

Another alleged contradiction at which many reports are hinting lies in the fact that the Pope’s remarks do nothing to alter the current ban on ordaining homosexual men. Some may ask, if Francis is willing to admit that gays can seek God and be persons of good will, why not allow them to be priests?

Current Vatican policy on the ordination of homosexuals is a disciplinary matter, not a doctrinal one. In theory it could change (though I think it unlikely). But even if it did, there would be no reason to assume that more than a small minority of homosexuals have a genuine vocation. The idea often heard that the priesthood is an “ideal” state of life for homosexual men since they are already compelled to be celibate is woefully misguided.

Rather than focusing on the narrow question of gays and the priesthood, what we need most urgently at the present time are spiritual approaches that help gay Christians to integrate their sexual orientation with their faith in a manner that steers a safe course between the Scylla of indulging in sexual vice and the Charybdis of destroying their sanity through denial about their sexuality.

One such approach, suggested by Cardinal Ratzinger in his Pastoral Letter on the Care of Homosexual Persons, is a spirituality of vicarious redemptive suffering for gay people:

What, then, are homosexual persons to do who seek to follow the Lord? Fundamentally, they are called to enact the will of God in their life by joining whatever sufferings and difficulties they experience in virtue of their condition to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross. That Cross, for the believer, is a fruitful sacrifice since from that death come life and redemption.

The fact that God gives homosexuals a heavy cross means that they have an opportunity to unite their sufferings to those of Christ and become instruments of salvation on behalf of others. It is classic Pauline spirituality: “In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (Col 1:24).

Ratzinger’s approach will not be appealing to all gay people, nor need it be. The Church has always accommodated a range of spiritualities within the boundaries of orthodoxy, and gay Christians’ own experience of their sexuality is diverse. For some, it is a great struggle bound up with a history of abuse and compulsive sexual behavior. For others, it is a fact of life that does not cause particular suffering.

Elizabeth Scalia suggests that “homosexuals are in fact ‘special and exceptional others,’ . . . created and called to play a specific role in our shared humanity.” And Joshua Gonnerman tells us that, as a celibate gay Christian, there are nevertheless many things in his experience of being gay that he finds valuable. These new approaches complement rather than contradict the spiritual approach outlined by Ratzinger, and are also grounded in the Pauline witness. In his First Letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle makes clear that every Christian is given gifts for the building up of the Church. There is no reason whatsoever to assume that gay Christians are an exception to what Paul says.

Aside from the litmus test of orthodoxy, the mark of a healthy spiritual approach to homosexuality should lie in the fact that it empowers gay Christians with a sense of moral agency. Gays are not to be “marginalized,” as the Pope notes, but neither are they to be patronized by well-meaning Christian organizations that portray them as helpless sex addicts who are simply passive recipients of the Church’s pastoral care. With the recognition that one has received gifts from God for active participation in the life of the Church, there comes a grave responsibility to follow the moral law. Christ’s calling restores to people the grace necessary to live in right relationship with God, but this means that gay Christians cannot portray themselves as victims of external forces if they fail to live up to their Christian calling.

Above all, a healthy spiritual approach to homosexuality ought to make clear that gay Christians have a legitimate place within the Body of Christ without having to pretend that they don’t exist by being pressured either into marriage or into becoming closeted priests. Though we should not overstate the innovation in Francis’ off-the-cuff remarks, the Pope has made a significant contribution to the development of a healthy spirituality for gay Christians by speaking of the need to integrate them within society (the Church is a society, too, after all), and by his recognition that many gay Christians already exist within the Church who are of “good will” and wish to “seek the Lord.”

Aaron Taylor, a Ph.D. student in ethics at Boston College, holds degrees from the University of Oxford and from Heythrop College, University of London.

What does it mean to be a priest?

Jesus in the synagogue.jpg

The priest as a spiritual father is the compass leading the people to righteousness, to virtuous path to God. He protects the Christian identity in all its complexities by educating our religious sense as Fr Giussani teaches. The faith community is as strong, stable, and capable in mission,, vocation, and charitable activities as the leaders are willing to lead.  A “high ecclesiology,” if you will, shows us that the priest is gateway to the faith and he shows the way to salvation; but a priest can only be a gateway if he has the people who form the walls and is aware that Christ is the foundation. Too often these days the Catholic priest is not a man of prayer, learning, culture, good humor; many priests have lost a sense of heroic virtue.

How does the priest address the needs of the faithful today? Can the priest answer the questions being asked by the faithful and those seeking to know God,or at least willing to do the work needed to answer these questions? What type of witness needed today by the priest viz. the culture, media, and politics, so that we are happy, healthy and loving Christians? What are the concrete ways can we focus on God? How do Christians face nihilism with faith, hope and charity? What does it mean to be a person –and not merely an individual– realizing that the person is a part of a whole who glorifies God?

As you can tell, I am thinking about these things. What I am reading on this subject will make for another post, but I spent time listening to two presentations.

Read more ...

Priest killed allegedly for giving bad homilies

The small, rural Scilian town of Trapani apparently is a crossroads of culture and history. It is now dealing with the murder of an elderly priest for allegedly giving bad homilies. His assailant, 33 and unemployed, wanted to teach Father a lesson one what he was saying in the pulpit. In some reports, Father Michele DiStefano is said to have spoken in a public fashion of the wrong-doings (sins?) of his people. I hope he wasn’t revealing what he heard in the confessional.

Bad preaching can drive people away. Actually, I think music can equally disturbing. If priests read this report they may want to get their affairs in order, or pick up a Father Peter John Cameron’s book on preaching, Why Preach: Encountering Christ in God’s Word.
I suppose you could make many conclusions about this circumstance, but I think it’s if we pray for God’s mercy on Father Michele and the man who killed him.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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