Archbp. Cordileone’s Letter to the people of @ArchdioceseSF Fr. Z kudos and a mini-rant.

A priest friend sent me a copy of the letter address to the people of the Archdiocese of San Francisco by his Excellency Most Rev. Samuel Cordileone. His letter addresses the present crisis.

The letter is impressive.

Among the things which impressed me the most were the following points.

1)  He mentioned “the raw ambition” of some, and behavior on the part of Church leaders that he described as “despicable, reprehensible, and absolutely unbecoming of a man of God.”
2) He was inspired by the “purity of motivation, their great love for Christ and his church” on the part of his seminarians.
3) Along with all the consultation, review, blah, blah, he has asked the priests and people to “engage in prayer, penance and adoration as an act of reparation for sins against chastity and the reverence due to the Blessed Sacrament, in accordance with our Lady’s wishes.”
4) He earnestly implores everyone to pray the rosary daily and as a family at least once a week; practice Friday penance by abstaining from eating meat and one other additional act of fasting; spending one hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament at least once a week.”

Note the emphasis on reparation.

Fr. Z kudos to Archbp. Cordileone.

He really got my attention when he brought up ambition.

I can understand and have a lot of sympathy for a lot of sins that priests commit.  Priests are human beings and they have weaknesses like everyone else.  Also, some sins are worse than others.  Mere sins of the flesh, in the normal course of things (not the twisted behavior of those who also exert power over a potential target), are not as horrid as certain other sins of the spirit.  Sins of the flesh are enough, of course, to kill the life of grace in the soul, but they are still on the low end of the scale.   Ambition, however, clerical ambition is one that I have struggle even to forgive.  Ambition is twisted and it twists men to the point that they will do just about anything to anyone to get ahead, no matter what it costs other people who are perceived as being “in their way”.  I have the knife scars in my ecclesiastical back to prove it.

Rare and rare and rarer yet is the man who wants to advance because he, in humility, recognizes that he has skill and he wants to use them truly to serve.   I’ve known only two.

O Lord, how I loathe clerical ambition!   Those who burn with “scarlet fever” merit the deepest cinders of Hell.  Queen of the Clergy, help us.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Fallibilissimo says:

    I’ve heard it referred to as “the lust of the clergy”.
    This whole episode just goes to show us what frail creatures we humans really are. May God protect our clergy even more: where sin abounds, grace abounds.

  2. majuscule says:

    When you wrote in another post about the need for bishops to perform a Rite of Exorcism over their dioceses I immediately thought that would be something Archbishop Cordileone would do. And I bet he will, if he hasn’t already.

    He is one of the good ones.

  3. DJAR says:

    If you want to see a true pastor, scroll down at the link. If you don’t have time, go to minute 23 and listen to what this holy and humble bishop has to say about his office. The whole thing is truly edifying, but the part at minute 23, et seq., is really so.

    He is young, was enthroned in June of this year, and is… a Jesuit. Remarkable.

  4. Even more impressive is a bishop who not only exhorts his priests and people to do penance but also undertakes to do it himself.

  5. MitisVis says:

    Here is a link to the SF Archdiocese and the letter:

    Archbp. Cordileone, Bishop Vasa, Archbp. Sample are some of the good bishops we need to stand by and pray for. With the homosexual scandals can you imagine what it’s like to be a good bishop on the west coast…

  6. Semper Gumby says:

    God bless Abp. Cordileone and faithful bishops.

  7. trekkie4christ says:

    Father, I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments. However, ‘loath’ is an adjective, not a verb. I think you mean ‘loathe’ instead.

    [And you are not my uninvited, public editor.]

  8. Benedict Joseph says:

    “Raw ambition.” A powerful ascription to a core problem. The first time I encountered it in monastic life I was floored, not so much by its existence, but by the lack of discretion with which it was exhibited. Then with diocesan clergy — by far, no less so. Very, very disturbing. God reward Archbishop Cordileone.

  9. Chris in Maryland 2 says:

    The Lion-Hearted.

    A worthy apostle – of the Lion of Judah.

    God send down your Holy Spirit with Fire, and your Archangel Michael, and give us your grace, to bash down the Gates of Hell.

  10. majuscule says:

    It’s really sad to see some of the blogosphere comments about how the good archbishop is “not doing enough” or “not going far enough”. Yet the only suggestions I hear are that he should kick out the gay clergy and/or close down the well known gay parish.

    I wonder how much power he (or any bishop) actually has in those sorts of matters?

    He mentioned his seminarians in the letter. He has taken on personal oversight of St. Patrick’s Seminary. There was outcry from the Fishwrap-reading types when he did that. Many of those are still priests in the archdiocese. I think they fear the faithful young priests who will someday outnumber them.

    It’s a little thing, but how about his bringing the TLM to San Quentin? There are more “little things” going on in the Archdiocese than the people in the pews are aware of.

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  12. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Did the good archbishop change his name recently? Bp Samuel Aquila, but bishop Salvatore Cordileone.

  13. Ave Maria says:

    Here is from Archbishop Aquila on the abuse situation:

    He asks his priests to offer a monthly Mass in reparation.

  14. adriennep says:

    If you feel discouraged about all this, please take a look at these photos by Marc Salvatore from the Sacred Liturgy Conference, held in Medford, Oregon on July 017. We had the great honor of hosting Cardinal Raymond Burke, Archbishop Sample, Archbishop Cordileone, and Bishop Vasa. They were all in the same room and same church at the same times. Heaven on earth really can happen.

    The next conference in in Spokane, Washington.

  15. Supertradmum says:

    I just wrote a post for my friend Jay Toups’ blog before reading this, but covered some of the same points, much less eloquently. Paranoia and emotional knee-jerk reactions against all clergy are not only unhelpful, but irrational. To be detached somewhat from the huge scandal is to look at one’s own sins and be humble. I thank God that I was never in a position of power or with enough money to spend on sin of this scale. BTW, I suggest that diocesan clergy, including bishops and cardinals, take a vow of poverty like priests in religious orders. Having too much wealth to spend on sex larks to Cuba, for example, would not be possible if the clergy were not so endowed.

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