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Monday, December 26, 2011

The Betting Window Is Open

Just three months after Bishop Ochoa, formerly of El Paso, publicly rebuked one of his own priests for daring to promulgate the Church's teaching on homosexuality, he finds himself moved to Fresno.

What a coincidence!

Those outside the Church and/or those not familiar with Church politics might say this move is a reward to Ochoa for his years of service. After all, Bishop Ochoa has old ties to California, having been consecrated by Cardinal Mahoney and serving as one of his auxiliaries for nearly a decade prior to his elevation to El Paso. Fresno is also a larger diocese than El Paso, so an argument can be made that Bishop Ochoa is finally being allowed to return to where his heart lies.

But is that really what is going on?

A bishop is generally moved to a new diocese because he is seen as having a set of skills which match the difficulties of the diocese to which he is being moved. That is, a bishop is generally placed in a diocese in such a way that he can make a difference.

Now, making a difference takes time. Bishop Ochoa, for instance, is replacing a man who reigned as Fresno's bishop for over twenty years. Ochoa himself reigned in El Paso from June 1996 to Dec 1, 2011,  a period of over 15 years.

But Bishop Ochoa is now 68 years old, just a few months shy of his 69th birthday (April 3, 1943). If a bishop doesn't make any changes in his first year in a new diocese (and most don't), that leaves Ochoa with roughly five years to work before he has to hand in his resignation. That's not a lot of time to accomplish anything.

And it's not like he accomplished that much in El Paso:
During the eleven year span between 1999 and 2009, there were only two ordinations to the priesthood for the Diocese of El Paso.
A bishop whose lived example and teaching is such that he manages to lead only two men to the priesthood in a decade isn't typically rewarded with a larger see. So, why would Rome move what would appear to be a barely competent bishop to a see like Fresno?

There's a question, eh?

Typically, an incompetent bishop is allowed to quietly die in his own diocese so that, at least, he doesn't harm anyone else. Bishop Ochoa was not granted that grace.

And the good Bishop himself seems rather deeply ticked off about the move. After all, when was the last time you heard a departing bishop speak dismissively of the diocese he himself has headed for the last decade? Yet that's exactly what Bishop Ochoa did on his way out of El Paso:
Bishop Ochoa likes to snow ski, and cycle. On his days off he'll ride 40 miles a week. In addition, he's happy to leave some of the west Texas ways behind. 
Bishop Ochoa: "After fifteen years, with all do (sic) respect, even though I have my Tony Lama boots and my Stetson hat, I'm never getting into country western or whatever they call it."

Hmmm... That's a little peevish from someone who is getting his heart's desire, isn't it?
Again we ask, is this a reward or a punishment and public disgrace?

Before you answer, notice how the chips fell - for there has been at least some (self-inflicted) collateral damage among other American bishops.

Fr. Michael Rodriguez, a diocesan priest of El Paso, had long fought against El Paso's City Council's attempt to impose homosexual "marriage" on the city against the express will of the voters. It is to be noted that many members of the City Council, including the mayor, claim to be "Catholic." An example of Father Michael's work can be seen here:

Of course, orthodox teaching could not be allowed to interfere with the City Council's work.
By August 2011, Bishop Ochoa publicly repudiated Magisterial Church teaching as a peculiar personal opinion of an outcast priest:
“I would like to state that previous columns claiming to speak for Catholic Doctrine were the personal opinions of individuals and do not necessarily express the belief of the Catholic Church,” 
Worse (at least from Bishop Ochoa's point of view), the Magisterium was not in conformance with the bishop's expert interpretation of IRS regulations (while the bishop has no formal training in the tax code, he is a very quick study).

2011's summer discussion of homosexual marriage in El Paso became nationally known. As Catholic blogs quickly lined up to opine on the situation, RealCatholicTV stepped in to produce not one, but two videos highlighting the wonders of Catholic teaching under Bishop Ochoa's reign in El Paso.

Now, those two videos came out in late October.

Which was just in time for another amazing coincidence.

Just over a month after Voris' twin videos highlighted the barely credible competence of Bishop Ochoa in regards not just to Fr. Michael Rodriguez but also in regards to the gross heresy permitted at the Tepeyac Institute of El Paso, RealCatholicTV got its reward.

On December 23, 2011 the Archdiocese of Detroit decided to give a special Christmas present to RealCatholicTV - Archbishop Vigneron decreed that Voris' organization be stripped of the word "Catholic" for having failed to teach in a way Vigneron considered to be in conformance with Catholic Faith.

The problem, of course, is that RealCatholicTV is not Voris' organization. Although Voris lives in Detroit, the organization is actually based in South Bend diocese. Which means Archbishop Vigneron is not competent to make such a decree. And Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who is competent to make such a decree, has remained conspicuously silent.

So, it looks for all the world as if Bishop Ochoa were being moved out of El Paso for lack of competency in general and for failing to take a stand against homosexual marriage in particular. He would appear to be the laughingstock of the American episcopacy.

Archbishop Vigneron then attempted to punish some of the people responsible for highlighting Ochoa's incompetence, but instead apparently made himself look even more foolish than Ochoa, which at this point, took some real work.

In the combat between the bishops and the Holy Spirit, we make the score God 2, Bishops 0.

Hello America's bishops!
Would anyone else like to take sides on this one?
The betting window is open...

Now, as a final aside, what lesson can the lay faithful take away from this?
The lesson, ladies and gentlemen, is this.
Keep your smart phones at hand.
Record homilies, liturgies, teachings - visual or just audio, whatever suits you.
Record everything.
Make copies of the good and of the bad and send those copies, with appropriate remarks, up the chain of command.

First, send a copy to the priest, thanking him for good teaching, asking him to explain less than good teaching.
If the teaching is good, copy the bishop - he should know who his good men are.

But if the teaching is confusing, and the priest does not respond appropriately within an appropriate time frame (say a month or so), then take copies of his (non) response and send both the original communications and the priest's response to the bishop, asking for the bishop to explain the confusing teaching.

If the bishop doesn't respond within a couple of months, or responds inappropriately, take it to the papal nuncio.
After that, take it to the appropriate congregation in Rome.

Record everything.
Did I mention you should record everything?
We want good priests, good teaching and good liturgy highlighted and properly rewarded.
We want confusing priests, teaching and liturgy highlighted and properly rewarded.
Record everything.
Hold fast to those recordings.

And pray for El Paso's new bishop, that he may have 
the steely spine of the Spirit, 
the loving heart of Christ, and 
the mind of God the Father.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Obama's Obituary

A thought from Vaclav Havel:

The post-totalitarian system touches people at every step, but it does so with its ideological gloves on. This is why life in the system is so thoroughly permeated with hypocrisy and lies: government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is enslaved in the name of the working class; the complete degradation of the individual is presented as his ultimate liberation; depriving people of information is called making it available; the use of power to manipulate is called the public control of power, and the arbitrary abuse of power is called observing the legal code; the repression of culture is called its development; the expansion of imperial influence is presented as support for the oppressed; the lack of free expression becomes the highest form of freedom; farcical elections become the highest form of democracy; banning independent thought becomes the most scientific of world views; military occupation becomes fraternal assistance. Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.