Sunday, September 25, 2011

Peter and Terri’s Legacy

The following is excerpted from a leaflet distributed by the Schappacher family on the death of their son Peter:

Peter William Schappacher lived nine years, three months and one day, a novena of years.  Peter had a traumatic birth which left him without oxygen for fifteen minutes.  Because of this, he was profoundly brain damaged and was not expected to even make it through the first night.

His first miraculous year involved many small surgeries and adaptations for our family.  Since then he spent time in and out of the hospital, at many specialists and with nurses at home.  He was unable to cough or swallow and had frequent infections, pneumonia, and seizures.

Although at first glance, it appeared that Peter was unable to communicate, he talked through his eyes.  When he was happy, his eyes would sparkle and his face would glow.  This was most evident when he was in the jet tub for his nightly, hour-long soak or if he was being held by one of the family.  He would cry in pain from kidney stones or seizures and sometimes would appear to be having a temper tantrum if he had a change in his daily schedule.  Peter was famous for being a venting friend for brothers, sisters, friends and nurses and would blink his long black eyelashes in sympathy.  Peter knows more secrets than anyone should and we all hope he is taking our petitions to Our Lord.

Although we feel sorrow at Peter’s sudden death, we also feel blessed.  We often feared that God would take Peter from this world after a long illness of suffering at the hospital, without his family, or with someone feeling responsible.  Peter slipped away quietly Monday afternoon without pain, suffering and surrounded by family.

We did everything in our human power to revive Peter but soon realized God had the whole situation in His hands.  When nothing would bring Peter back, we looked at his face and his expression was heavenly.  It was a look that held no pain, no sorrow of any kind.

Nine years, three months, one day later, we are thankful Peter was part of our family.  We have all grown in faith, the meaning of pure, unselfish love, and belief in miracles.  Thank you, Peter, for everything you have taught us.  You will be terribly missed……with God’s grace we will meet again!

A more eloquent and touching tribute to this little boy – or to anyone -- is hard to imagine.  But it is more than a tribute to Peter: what it reveals about his family says even more – a family who, lovingly, without fanfare, cared for this little fellow as perhaps no one else would or could.  How many of us would have done the same, and to that extent?  How many would have made that sacrifice, that labor of love – of God’s Divine Love?  Many of us preach, but how many of us “practice”?  Many are they who say the “right” things, but how many do the right thing.  This family did the right thing.

Peter, of course, was totally helpless.  He could do almost nothing on his own. Except for doctors’ visits or trips to the emergency room, he never went anywhere or did anything.  Materially speaking, he never “accomplished” anything or made any significant “contribution to society.”  What “good” was he?  What “grand purpose” was there to his existence?  What kind of “impact” did he have?  What kind? -- the most powerful kind of all: he taught all of us what humanity and the sanctity of human life are all about – perhaps more so than anyone else on this planet.

Luckily for Peter, he had parents who believed in the sanctity of life – and in not “snuffing it out” when “difficulties” arose.  Terri Schiavo was not so lucky.  Her life was ended by a husband who plotted to have her put to death – and who succeeded.  In Terri’s case, this monstrous action was defended by, believe it or not, one who calls himself a traditional priest.  The irony here is that at the time of Terri’s death, little Peter’s parents were (but, happily, no longer are) attending the church of this selfsame priest who defended the action of Terri Schiavo’s husband.  It is also ironic that this priest, who slammed the mainstream news media and those “Oprah-watching idiots” for acting “emotionally” and not having their facts straight, relied on those same media for his “facts.”  If he had troubled to get the real facts -- which were all available to him at the time – he would have realized that he was totally wrong.  He did not, nor has he done since.

Luckily for Peter, his parents did not heed what this priest had to say in his following comments regarding the sustaining of life by “extraordinary means”:  “The resolution of the moral issue [i.e., what constitutes “extraordinary means” in sustaining life]…hinges upon the definition of the term “extraordinary” – not as the term is defined by medical science, but rather as it is defined by moral theologians.  …Moral theologians categorize as extraordinary those treatments that are physically painful, invasive, repulsive, emotionally disturbing, dangerous, rarely successful, expensive, etc. 

“Nowadays the latter burden – extraordinary expense – is mostly hidden, because “someone else pays for it” – i.e., you and I and everyone else foot the bills through health insurance premiums, doctor malpractice premiums and high taxes.”  He then continued:  “Does the Fifth Commandment under pain of mortal sin always require s sick person who is unable to eat or drink by ordinary means to have a doctor shove a tube into his nose or poke a hole in his stomach in order to provide food and water?  …Having a hole poked in you, a tube shoved in and then having to eat and drink that way would be burdensome for any man.”

Oh yes, having to “poke a hole in his stomach” was very “extraordinary” for Peter, but not in the sense implied.  It was notphysically painful, invasive, repulsive, emotionally disturbing, dangerous, rarely successful, expensive, etc.”; it was extraordinary in that this painless means of nourishment conveniently and inexpensively kept Peter very adequately nourished for all of his nine years – as it also does for the daughter of people who too were (but, happily, no longer are) parishioners of this same priest.  Ironic, isn’t it?  In the case of the daughter, who is now a teenager, she has been getting her nourishment this way for her entire life (and counting).  Let it also be noted that Terri Schiavo actually was able to swallow (she received the Sacred Species in communion that way); but tube-feeding was more convenient for her. 

What kind of an IDIOT -- in our present time, when tube-feeding through the stomach has for decades been commonly accepted as a very ordinary means of nourishment (and which is, in fact, cheaper and easier to do than conventional feeding) – would contend that this comprised “extraordinary means”?!  And, what kind of an idiot – or heartless monster – would try to disallow keeping someone alive on the grounds of it being too much of a “burden on society”?  Perhaps a “Medicare” bureaucrat might want to put a price on life – but a traditional Catholic priest??  Luckily again for Peter, his parents didn’t share this priest’s views on the “economics” of sustaining life – or of ending it.  And as for it being a “burden on society,” much of the cost of Peter’s care was borne by his family -- who were more than happy to do it (as were Terri Schiavo’s family, but who were legally barred from doing so).  In both cases, the “burden to society” was (or would have been) negligible.

For both the Schappachers (Peter’s family) and the Schindlers (Terri’s family), life is not a matter of dollars and cents.  They do not put a price on life, nor do they measure human beings either by their “worth” or “cost” to society.  They had the Faith to realize that human beings have a body and a soul and that it is the soul that counts -- that it is that which sets us apart as humans and makes us “temples of the Holy Ghost.”  They also realize that our ultimate kingdom, as Our Lord said, is not of this world, but the next.

And if humans are not to be measured in “dollars and cents” terms, neither are they to be measured or valued based on their “intellectual capacity.”  Little Peter suffered severe brain trauma at birth.  But, as his family noted, he could “talk” with his eyes; and he could express joy, pain, and other emotions and feelings.  In Terri Schiavo’s case, she had, as another article pointed out, even more intellectual capacity – not that this “entitled” her to being considered any more “human” than Peter.  They were BOTH as “human” as you or I; they, just as we, have mortal bodies but immortal souls.  Who are we to say that “intellectual capacity” determines “humanity” (or to know what one’s capacity really is) or that one is “too brain-damaged” to live?  Or too insane?  Or too “handicapped”?  Where do we draw that line?

The fact is, we don’t really know how much Peter understood or absorbed.  Since he couldn’t speak, we have no way of knowing.  Only God knows, and we are not God – nor can we “play” God.  One thing we do know is that when we die, we will all have the intellectual capacity to know God in His fullness – and this includes Peter and Terri.  That is what’s hard for some people to realize: that the things that limited Peter’s and Terri’s “mental capacity” are bodily, “flesh and blood” limitations; they no longer apply after death.   Yes, they will be just as “capable” as the rest of us – perhaps even more so; they, just as we, will enjoy the Beatific Vision in all its Fullness and Beauty – and they’ll probably be seeing it much sooner than most of us!

This priest, who had the ignorance, the audacity, and the arrogance to try to justify THE MURDER OF TERRI SCHIAVO, should be ASHAMED of himself -- as should be the people who support him, either openly or by their cowardly acquiescence.  The Schappachers and the Schindlers, on the other hand, are our shining beacons of what real Catholic morality is all about.  “What’s that?” you say.  The Schindlers are “novus ordo” and, ergo, “not Catholic”?  Well, I’ll take their Catholic principles over those of the letter-of-the-law hypocrites who still defend and support this wretched priest.  I’ll also take it over those cowardly priests who have kept silent to this day on Schiavo because they did not want to “offend” this priest – because he was a political bedfellow of theirs.  Only Fr. William Jenkins and a handful more had the courage to speak up and say the right thing.  Why has it taken a layman to point out what they should have recognized -- and done something about -- at first sight?

Why?  Well, besides the “political bedfellow” part, the answer is complacency – especially for the laity, and especially for those who still support this priest.  As long as they’re “getting their sacraments,” they really don’t care about much else:  “So what if he was wrong about Schiavo; he’s ‘valid’ – that’s all that counts!  And why are you still ‘harping’ on this?  We’ve heard this all before!”  Well then, hear it again.  Perhaps it will “sink in” this time!  We as a nation have been “dumbed down” (even the use of the word “dumb” for stupid is prima facie evidence of it): if people keep ignoring the message over and over again, it must be repeated until they get it.  Repetition is not only the mother of memory; it is the mother of persuasion and belief.

Actually, the phrase “dumbed down” doesn’t quite hit the mark.  To be more precise, we have been numbed down.  We as a nation have had our brains anesthetized to accept whatever comes along.  Nothing shocks us any more, no matter how horrendous the news, or how blatantly wrong the deed.  As long as it is not personally happening to us, we take it in stride.  As long as we are getting our daily ration of “food and football,” the world can be falling down around us – and we won’t care.  We are calloused to it.  This same mentality has crept into the “spiritual” sphere as well: “No matter that he was totally wrong on Schiavo, or that he blatantly slandered a deceased Abbot Giardina who could not talk back; no matter that he’s wrong just about every time he opens his mouth; no matter that he and his colleagues have victimized so many folks at SGG -- it hasn’t happened to me, and I’m still getting my sacraments -- that’s all that counts.”

Sorry, folks – it doesn’t work that way.  A priest who takes that kind of position on the sanctity of human life – who says what he did about Schiavo  -- is really not Catholic.  Nor are they who support such a position, ignore it, or pretend that it didn’t happen.  Ignoring such evil just so one can “have his sacraments” is evil in itself.  “All the sacraments in the world” and “saying all the right prayers” will not get one to heaven, without the right attitude -- like the Pharisee in Our Lord’s parable, where it was the publican -- and not he – who went away “justified.”  Being a Catholic is more than showing up at church often and “saying the right stuff.”  Being a Catholic means living a Catholic life, defending right against wrong, and taking the Catholic position on things – especially on things like the sanctity of life.

Terri Schiavo and Peter Schappacher died in totally different ways: Peter’s death was peaceful and pleasant, whereas Terri’s was horrible: skin cracked open from dehydration, bleeding from dehydrated, sunken eye sockets, and with a look of frightened disbelief on her face -- Terri and Peter, so different – yet so similar in that each, in their own way, taught us the meaning of the sanctity of life.  When they are in heaven (and I’ll lay money that they are), I hope that they are praying for us.  We will certainly need those prayers.  Every nation that has not upheld the sanctity of life has paid a terrible price – and we as a nation have not upheld it.  Let us hope that the example of Terri and Peter gets our country back on the right track.  At the very least, we as individuals must do our part by emulating the Schappachers’ and the Schindlers’ shining example.  Those who have conveniently “justified” not doing so will be terribly “inconvenienced” when they meet their Maker.  And they’ll have more than a look of “frightened disbelief” to contend with -- they’ll have God’s wrath.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It All Boils Down to Charity

In the SAG (St. Albert the Great) Church bulletin of Sunday, August 21, 2011, Fr. Markus Ramolla (SAG’s pastor) announced the opening of a new seminary (St. Athanasius) to affiliated with SAG.  In explaining to his parishioners his reasons for opening it, Fr. Ramolla mentioned that he was approached a few months earlier by a young man from Oklahoma who wanted to become a priest.  This led to rumors of a seminary being started, which prompted yet another young man to apply to him – a young man who, as he put it, “had left his current house of formation in Omaha, Nebraska.”

He went on to say, “When word reached the authorities there, they acted very quickly to anticipate any other potential defections by dismissing two other seminarians.”  These two were, of course, Messrs. Florent Grassigli and Julian Voth, who, he went on to explain, were “now back home in Europe” after their summer break.  Now Fr. Ramolla could have added that these two young men were back in Europe because, as pointed out in this website’s last article, they had been treacherously betrayed by Bp. Pivarunas (having their visas revoked while at the same time reassuring them that they had not been); but he did not.

He saw no reason to mention anything about this act of duplicity, because he did not want to publicly expose Bp. Pivarunas in a negative way.  Indeed, he did not mention Bp. Pivarunas at all -- nor Mater Dei Seminary, merely referring to it as a “house of formation in Omaha, Nebraska.”  True, astute readers could figure out that he was referring then to MDS; and, true, SAG’s website, being a website, technically makes it “public” information.  But it is not for the public-at-large, most of whom didn’t know to whom or what Fr. Ramolla was referring in that bulletin announcement.  His words were intended for SAG’s parishioners only; and those words might have passed unnoticed, had no one responded to them.

But someone did – and in a conspicuously public way.  Bp. Pivarunas could have let things pass – which would have not drawn any attention to himself; but he chose to attack Fr. Ramolla by name, openly and publicly.  Not only that, but he attacked Bps. Slupski and Petko as well – men who had never done him any harm or wrong.  Fr. Ramolla, of course, necessarily responded to Bp. Pivarunas, answering the latter’s mendacious allegations, effectively refuting them one by one.  Dr. Droleskey also responded with a piece articulating proper Church teaching on a number of things, including its position on NFP (Natural Family Planning) and on “brain death” (and its erroneous use in justifying “organ donation”).  Lastly, an article on this website noted, among other things, Bp. Pivarunas’s aforementioned betrayal of the two seminarians – with written proof provided by none other than the bishop and his CMRI colleagues themselves.

The fact that the bishop’s assistants “blew his cover” (by exposing the fact that the bishop betrayed the two seminarians and then lied about it) illustrates how sloppily the whole thing was handled.  It also illustrates the hypocrisy of the bishop in wrongfully accusing Fr. Ramolla of deceitfulness and lying, when he in fact was engaging in just that – and more.  Even after the bishop’s attack in his initial “open letter” to Fr. Ramolla, the latter graciously and mercifully spared the bishop by not revealing his singular act of treachery.  However, Lay Pulpit could not let this pass: to repeat what should be obvious to anyone with any common sense, being a cleric does not exempt one from having his public allegations against another publicly rebutted – especially when they are false, and done preemptively.  To expect that Bp. Pivarunas’s higher clerical “rank” entitles him to any more credibility than a “simple priest” (or a “simple seminarian,” for that matter) is a false and uncharitable piece of illogic – especially considering how the bishop wronged those two seminarians in such a duplicitous way.

One might think that the recent responses to Bp. Pivarunas would have silenced him – but they did not.  As previouslt noted, he chose to respond again, not only continuing his slandering of Bps. Slupski and Petko (even questioning the latter’s legitimacy and credentials), but of Fr. Ramolla and several seminarians as well.  He then misinterpreted an e-mail from Fr. Hall and then claimed it as “evidence” for one of his false conclusions, stating the following: “Even Fr. Bernard Hall had concerns about Bishop Slupski’s illicit behavior [my Italics]. In his email to me, he wrote:  ‘The fact that Bishop Slupski had done so was brought to my attention literally minutes before my ordination to the diaconate by Bishop Petko... Upon reflection later, I perhaps naively thought that by distancing myself from Bishop Slupski’s position, I would protect my own reputation as a priest.’  The problem here is that Fr. Hall was not referring to “illicit behavior” but to the fact that some people – especially his fellow parishioners -- might give credence to the rumors being spread about Bp. Slupski, thereby lessening Fr. Hall’s legitimacy in their eyes.  He (Fr. Hall) never had (nor has) the belief that Bp. Slupski ever engaged in any “illicit behavior.”  

Bp. Pivaruas then attempted to discredit what Dr. Droleskey had to say recently regarding NFP et al, noting at one point the doctor’s “lack of experience as a priest.”  Apparently, Bp. Pivarunas feels that non-clerics are ill qualified to comment on moral theological issues.  One needs to remind Bp. Pivarunas that Dr. Droleskey (in addition to a host of other “non-clerics”) knows MUCH MORE about moral theology than the bishop could ever hope to know.  This becomes painfully evident when one reads what Bp. Pivarunas had to say on what constitutes “brain death” and its fraudulent use in justifying organ transplants.  Bp. Pivarunas’s intellectually shallow and embarrassingly erroneous positions in both areas (reminiscent of Anthony Cekada’s hastily and sloppily crafted travesty on Schiavo) are thoroughly and exhaustively refuted by Dr. Dorleskey in his article.  Rather than add any words to the discussion, the writer defers to Dr. Droleskey’s in-depth assessment, which more than suffices.

As it turns out, Bp. Pivarunas takes NO real definitive position at all, one way or the other, on “brain death’ or organ transplantation.  What he does, instead, is to defer to medical “experts” for their definitions of death based on “brain death” – this to justify the harvesting of organs for transplanting.  In doing so, he conveniently dodges the issue himself.  For a “simplex” priest, such a “non-stance” might be overlooked; but for one who claims to be head of a Traditional Catholic Seminary that bills itself as a facility that gives young men a first-rate education in Catholic principles, this is not passable.

It is rather ironic that -- by the definition of “brain death” on which Bp. defers to his “experts” (including his brother, an osteopath who is by no means an expert on such a thing) -- a nine-year-old boy named Peter, who just died recently, would have been considered “brain dead” these past nine years.  In the bishop’s latest response, what he implies in citing these “experts” is not clear.  In his discussion, he seems to “bridge over” from real death (which is what Popoe Pius XII was addressing) to “brain death” (which is what Dr. Coomaraswamy was postulating on).  Whatever the bishop implied or whatever point he was trying to make, the truth is, Dr. Coomaraswamy was WOEFULLY WRONG: there is no such thing as “brain death”; and, indeed, it is impossible for anyone to say with certainty the exact moment that the soul and the body are separated and death occurs.  Moreover, there have been scores of instances where people who have been declared “brain dead’ have recovered, including one such case just recently in the news (see article, which includes related links).

Bp. Pivarunas, while he was on the subject of “brain death,” cited Pope Pius XII’s address to the International Congress of Anesthesiologists on November 24, 1957, where he implied that the pope was deferring to doctors to determine when death actually occurs.  Of course, what the pope was referring to had nothing to do with the concept of “brain death,” which was not even talked about at the time (nor were organ transplants, also an unknown back then).  Bp. Pivarunas then continued by saying that Dr. Rama Coomaraswamy eventually was consulted, and that his position was that “brain death was true death and that the transplanting of organs was moral.”

Toward the end of his discussion on “brain death,” the bishop went on to add:  “Medical technology has advanced considerably since the time of Pope Pius XII. This technology was unknown to doctors 54 years ago. The concept of brain death (the entire brain, including the brain stem) was not taken into consideration by Pope Pius XII.”  Yes, Pope Pius XII was NOT addressing the “concept of brain death” at the time; and medical technology HAS advanced since the fifties. But Bp. Pivarunas uses this to imply that nowadays the concept of “brain death” is “legitimate” – a “done deal,” so to speak.  Of course (as noted before), he conveniently takes no position (pro or con) anyway – so all of this amounts to moot speculation.  But how can one who is the head of a seminary not take a position on such a thing, especially when the overwhelming evidence now is that “brain death” is NOT death, and that organs are harvested in every case from LIVING, BREATHING people??

This “non-position” notwithstanding, it is ironic that Bp. Pivarunas comments on the inadequacy of medical technology back in 1957 regarding “brain death” et al: ironic, because he cites the inadequacy of 1950’s technology here, but does NOT question at all Anthony Cekada’s dependence on that same inadequate technology for his pathetically wrong “feeding by extraordinary means” argument used on Schiavo.  Why so vocal on the former and so strangely silent on the latter?  It is especially ironic, considering that advances in medical technology have long since shown the concept of “brain death” (as synonymous with real death) to be patently FALSE, and considering that tube-feeding has for decades NOT been considered prolonging life by “extraordinary means.”  Bp. Pivarunas has taken the vocal and supportive position on the side of wrong, and the silent position on the side of right.
It is also ironic that Bp. Pivarunas, in his most recent letter to Fr. Ramolla, states that “the accusations [as he calls them] against Mater Dei Seminary are objectively sins of calumny” – this just after having THOROUGHLY CALUMNIATED Bps. Slupski and Petko (who – I repeat – have never at any time said or done anything harmful against Bp. Pivarunas).  The bishop needs to take, among other things, a course in logic, so that he doesn’t put himself in such an embarrassingly vulnerable position again.  He also needs to heed that old adage, “Oh what a tangled web we weave…”  

The bishop concludes, after his slandering and his erroneous and adolescent (and ultimately non-committal) postulating on moral theology, to head off any further discussion by stating: In conclusion, I do not intend to waste precious time in an endless debate. There are more important things to do, such as saving souls.”  Really, “your Excellency,” did you think that calling for an end to further debate was going to silence your critics?  We are thinking adults, “your Excellency.”  You cannot silence us or intimidate us as if we were schoolboys – or seminarians in a “captive” setting.  And if you are really interested in “saving souls,” why have you engaged in attacking the reputations of Bps. Slupski and Petko (yet have kept stone silence not only on Anthony Cekada’s handling of Schiavo -- and his equally shabby slandering of Abbot Giardina -- but on the countless abuses that occurred at SGG, of which you were kept fully aware)?  This does not sound like “saving souls” to me; it sounds more like saving face, and saving political alliances -- especially with SGG.  Yes, saving souls is important; but saying it is one thing, and doing it is another.

Bp. Pivarunas must realize that Fr. Ramolla is not out to “destroy” him or the CMRI; he only wants to start a seminary – which he has done.  And the reason for starting that seminary is that Mater Dei Seminary’s knowledge base and scholarship are simply too “lightweight,” as evidenced by its rector’s own comments.  That is not to say that the rector and staff there are bad men, or that they have not done any good.  Training priests to go forth and bring the sacraments to the faithful is certainly a good thing, and they have done this at MDS -- BUT, there is more to being a priest than simply being a purveyor of sacraments.  A priest must be more than that.  He must be well-steeped in not only dogmatic theology but in a host of other disciplines as well, as a companion article so lucidly and correctly points out. Bp. Pivarunas’s comments regarding “brain death” are just one of several examples that point up MDS’s academic inadequacy – an inadequacy that is real and plain to see.

This kind of inadequacy cannot be camouflaged (or substituted for) by a fancy campus or by impressive buildings.  The substance of a seminary is not its bricks and mortar but its curriculum.  St. Athanasius Seminary, the seminary affiliated with SAG (St. Albert the Great), will fill that gap.  And “that gap” is the real reason why several seminarians have left MDS – NOT because of any “association” with Bp. Slupski or Bp. Petko.

Bp. Petko, by the way, has been unduly and unjustly slandered not only by Bp. Pivarunas, but by others as well (including a pair of clergy whose home base is in West Chester, Ohio).  Because of this, an unwarranted pall of suspicion over him has in the past caused some to question the credentials and legitimacy of this good and guileless man.  The people of SAG should not emulate such pharisaical and mendacious mean-spiritedness.  They owe Bp. Petko a debt of gratitude for all that he has selflessly and unhesitatingly done for them – not the least of which includes the ordination of Fr. Hall.  Bp. Petko deserves our loyalty – not our fault-finding based on “doubts” generated from groundless and false hearsay – by people who are sulking and looking for someone to blame because their comfortable but illusory perception of a “perfect” Bp. Pivarunas has been shattered by unexpected, unwelcome reality.

The staff at SAG (including its new seminary) will go forward to provide a solidly Catholic life and atmosphere for its parishioners and future priests. Bp. Pivarunas should actually be happy that there is another traditional Catholic seminary coming into being.  He ought to welcome it, not fight it.  We would welcome any collaboration (or even “neutrality”) on his and the CMRI’s part – but we will not tolerate from that corner any unjust hostility toward our priest or any of our people.  The ball is now in Bp. Pivarunas’s court; and this is an opportunity for him to do the right thing.  In doing so, he will have much good will to gain, and little to lose.  One thing that he sorely needs to realize is that a temporary political alliance with the reptiles of Rialto Road is just that, a temporary alliance, and that these men have a proven track record of duplicity.

Bp. Pivarunas also sorely needs to realize that making enemies of Fr. Ramolla and the people of SAG cannot help him, but only hurt him.  He has instituted an action that has elicited and occasioned a necessary response from Fr. Ramolla and his supporters.  But we are not vindictive; we will put all that behind us, provided the bishop chooses to do so as well.  However, if he chooses the path that the SGG clergy have taken and allies himself with them (and co-commits misdeeds in concert with them), he will not find solace or refuge in their company; they, who have vilified him in the past, will turn on him again, once they no longer have need of him.  We who have been victimized by these same scoundrels know this only too well.

The bottom line right here and now is that Bp. Pivarunas has, by his recent actions, veered in the direction of wrongdoing.  People may fantasize all they want to that he has not; but the reality is that he has.  It’s there in black and white.  The perception that Bp. Pivarunas has not done anything overtly ”bad” in the past does not change the reality that he has done so in the present.  Fr. Ramolla did not attack Bp. Pivarunas; it was the latter who first “opened the bottle” and accused Fr. Ramolla of being “disingenuous” and “deceitful.”  It was also he who lied to his former seminarians about their legal status and simultaneously betrayed them; the e-mail evidence came from his own lips and that of his colleagues at MDS – not ours.  It is fact, not fabrication.

The ball – to state it one last time – is in Bp. Pivarunas’s court.  Let us hope that he doesn’t “drop” it.  He needs to stop criticizing those who have done him (or anyone else) no wrong, and start realizing where real wrong has been done – such as Cekada’s embarrassingly erroneous and scandalous position on Schiavo, and his disgraceful attack on Abbot Giardina.  He also needs to take real and Catholic positions on things: not just on Schiavo, but on “brain death,” organ transplants – whatever. The Catholic position on all of these things is clear.  He can’t have it “both ways”: he cannot continue to avoid taking positions on things where the Catholic position is both clear and known, and still claim himself as an “authority” on Catholic teaching and morality – especially when being the head of an institution that purports to be expert in such things.

Whatever Bp. Pivarunas chooses to do (or say) from here on, St. Athanasius Seminary will go on, no matter what; and it will flourish, be it in an atmosphere of cooperation or of confrontation -- hopefully the former, because we agree with what Bp. Pivarunas says: “There are more important things to do, such as saving souls.”  To put meaning into those words, though, one must realize that this is not accomplished by slamming people like Bps. Slupski and Petko, or by accusing a fellow priest of deceit.  More importantly, such posturing will not make St. Athanasius Seminary go away; it is here to stay, and its goal WILL be to save souls.  But it will be more than that: its mission will be to teach and give the true Catholic position on moral theology et al, with no ambiguities, no “waffling” or “issue dodging,” and definitely no false teachings.  It is not our intent to say that Bp. Pivarunas is “a bad man” or that MDS is “bad” – just inadequate -- and that is what the new seminary will address.

We invite the cooperation, not the confrontation, of Bp. Pivarunas (and others); but to achieve the one, the other must cease.  Before cooperation can take place and be real, honesty and respect are prerequisites – and, of course, they must be done in a spirit of charity.  Without charity, both words and actions become as “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”  Here again, as in everything else, it all boils down to charity.