A change of international leadership in the Redemptorists

The Redemptorist Congregation has elected a new Superior General. He is a Brazilian, about whom I know little or nothing, so I won’t have any expectations, one was or another, about him.

The man who has completed two terms, a total of twelve years,  as Superior General, Michael Brehl, is the person who oversaw all the years of my dealing with the Vatican Congregation, the CDF. In all truth, the only thing I can say is that I do not lament his going. It is a pity to say that, and maybe I should say nothing, but it is the truth. My consistent view is that he did not handle my case well, and that someone with more courage, and a stronger sense of justice would have done things differently.

My biggest complaint with the events of 1212, when I was accused of heretical writings, and suspended indefinitely from priestly ministry, is that the process by which the Vatican and the Redemptorist authorities dealt with me was lacking in the most basic principles of justice. As I have written many times in this blog, there was no proper procedure that would have allowed me to know my accusers, to be able to defend myself, to be treated respectfully by the CDF, meeting with me and allowing me to state my case before any judgment was passed. In reality the Roman authorities never communicated directly with me, and gave me no court of appeal, having already passed judgment before I even knew anything was afoot. This unjust process means that ever since then I have been unable to have any respect for the methods of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Yes, the initiative for all this came from the Vatican, but it was the Redemptorist authorities who imposed the sentence on me, and continue to support it.

I know they were under pressure at the time, but looking back now I would have hoped that the person in charge of my religious congregation would have recognised the injustice of the process, and refused to be part of it.

An opportunity to redress the wrong arose about four years ago. A group of lay people here in Ireland got together in order to do something about my suspension. They were assisted by the Association of Catholic Priests, and also, to their credit, by the Irish Redemptorist superiors. Between them they composed a document, calling for my re-instatement to ministry, and sent it to Superior General Brehl. They were working on the basis that, under Pope Francis, things has greatly changed in the Vatican, and that since the Redemptorists had imposed the penalty, the Redemptorists could also lift it, and the document from these three groups were asking that this be the case.

Once again the Superior General showed a lack of courage, and instead of taking unilateral action, he brought the document over to the CDF, with the result that things were made worse rather than better, with a further list of impossible demands being made on me. 

So I wish Michael Brehl well in his future life, but I am glad to see him departing his present post.

I know that I haven’t been able to fully move on with my own life, as can probably be seen from the above. I still relive parts of those years, and think of different ways I might have responded. My dearest wish isn’t necessarily to be able to minister again – I am well passed retirement age – but to see the Church changing its approach,  and dealing with situations like mine in a way that is just and respectful to the person into whose life they are intruding.

Is that too much to hope for? Probably.