He may be going to Rome, but the National “Catholic” Reporter just can’t get enough of Archbishop Burke. This time they expose the horror of the Archdiocese allegedly videotaping the women’s sorta-nation last November. UPDATE: I recall that the event was already on YouTube last November–that’s how Bozek’s participation got out. It is still on google.
This, friends, is a classic non-story story. The headline below is taken directly from NCR:
July 9, 2008
The archdiocese of St. Louis authorized the video recording of a Catholic women’s ordination ceremony that took place in a synagogue last November. It then used the video, along with photographs apparently taken from the video, as evidence to punish a Catholic nun who attended the liturgy, according to several people familiar with the case.
Sister of Charity Louise Lears was forced out of all church ministerial roles and banned from receiving sacraments within the archdiocese by an edict of St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke announced June 26.
The next day the archdiocese announced that Burke had been reassigned to a position at the Vatican as prefect of the church’s highest canonical court, the Apostolic Signatura.
Lears, 58, has been a member of the pastoral team at St. Cronan Parish in South St. Louis for the past three years, and a coordinator of religious education in the archdiocese.
She refused to be interviewed for this article. She is not speaking to the media.
However, several people familiar with the documents, prepared by the archdiocese that made up the case against her, strongly criticized what they called the “surveillance” video-taping.
One of the confidential archdiocesan documents, according to knowledgeable sources, was an affidavit giving permission to an individual to attend the ceremony in order to record it. The record of the ceremony is contained on two electronic discs in Lears’ file.
The file also contains close-up photographs of a name tag Lears was wearing during the ceremony. Her attendance at the November 2007 ordination held at the Central Reform Congregation, headed by Rabbi Susan Talve, was never a secret, according to Lears’ associates.
The ceremony drew some 600 people, among them several dozen women religious, according to people who attended the liturgy. Only Lears, however, was singled out by Burke.
“It was a surveillance video. That’s exactly what it was,” said Sean Collins, a co-pastoral associate of Lears at St. Cronan Parish until he resigned July 2nd, in part, he said, to speak about what he says has been a grave injustice taken against Lears.
“What disturbs me even more is that the video taping was premeditated,” he said, referring to the affidavit authorizing it by the archdiocese. Collins did not see the document firsthand, but referred to others who had seen it.
“They clearly selected Louise from a congregation of some 600 people and of those 40 or 50 of them offered blessings,” he said. “Of all of those who offered blessings only Louise has been singled out.”
NCR made several unsuccessful attempts to reach Burke for comment through the archdiocese and the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, but he was unavailable. There is no evidence that Burke knew about or ordered the taping. However, Catholics familiar with the workings of the archdiocese say it would be unlikely it could have happened without his authorization.
Some observations are in order. 1) The story relates that the knowledge of this videotape authorization came from the record of proceedings in the Lears matter. Some cover-up and surveillance, to give Lears the documentation of the authorization and the video itself. Until now, we have heard a constant lament that the Archbishop wouldn’t communicate with Lears. Isn’t this a way of saying, “Um, here is some evidence of why I think you might support women’s “ordination”?”
2) The “associates” of Sr. Lears say her attendance at the sacrilege was never a secret. Then why are they upset that a non-secret was documented by the Archdiocese, given to Sr. Lears as part of a canonical proceeding, and now made more non-secret by someone close to Lears, as NCR almost certainly did not obtain this record from the Archdiocese?
3) Former “Pastoral Team” member Collins rather laughably claims that “only [Sr.] Louise” was singled out. Perhaps he is forgetting comrade-in-arms and local media celebrity Marek Bozek, who also was chagrined to be caught on video at this farcical ceremony. I have speculated before in this space that Bozek’s abrupt strategy shift in the public relations battle with the Archbishop from “Help, we’re a poor Polish parish being crushed by the bully” whine to the “I have a glorious and welcoming vision for the church and can no longer stand by while my sisters are abused” mantra was a direct result of video evidence forcing him to acknowledge his denial of Church teaching and discipline in many areas before he really wanted to.
4) The article states that Sr. Lears isn’t speaking to the media, but it appears that someone close to Lears who has knowledge of her case is feeding information to NCR.
5) To the Archbishop: It takes courage to stand up to the relentless effort by those who oppose the Church to use the media to unfairly criticize by smear, mockery and unsubstantiated innuendo, your faithful efforts to defend the Catholic Church and her teachings, as you fulfill your duties as shepherd of Christ’s flock in St. Louis. We pray that your successor will follow your example.
6) To the NCR and the dissidents who love it: Relax. These aren’t the Nixon tapes we’re talking about. You wanted the attention that comes from thumbing your nose at the Church. You got the attention you sought. Hudson, Mc Grath, Fresen, Lears, Bozek and others made public through their actions and/or statements that they reject infallible Church teaching. The teaching of Jesus Christ. Canon Law provides for censures for doing so pertinaciously.
You are reaping the whirlwind you’ve sown.
What I pray that you realize that as long as you draw breath it is never to late to repent and come back to the faith. Christ and His Church will welcome you, but will always respect your free will– you cannot be compelled. The sorrows you are suffering under are of your own making, and you alone can unmake them. Now is the acceptable time.