Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Why, Pastor Morris - Why?

I cannot think of any member of our national family who has not been affected by the tragic events in Newtown CT.  It was my hope that during this past weekend, all members of the pastoral community would offer words of comfort and healing to their congregations.

This evening I was presented with a story about a minister in Tennessee and his sermon this past weekend that is beyond my professional and pastoral understanding.

Old Paths Baptist Church Pastoral Sam Morris told his congregation that the number of mass shooting were escalating because of schools were government “mind-control centers” that taught “junk about evolution” and “how to be a homo.”  Mr. Morris went on to say “We get all up in arms about 20 children being shot in a day care but we don’t give one good-glory rip about the 4,000 that were removed violently from the wombs of their mothers on the same day,” he explained. “I believe they use children and Christmas and all that to pull on our heart strings about gun control. That’s what it’s all about.”

In additional remarks, Morris said “We’re going to see more of this because notice, the first thing in America we start yelling about is gun control is gun control. Have you noticed that? Gun control. No one’s even thought about the fact that these shootings only happened at places where guns are banned. Have you noticed that? They have never had a mass shooting at a gun show, where you can find over a thousand loaded guns at one time.”

“Why do you still send your kids to the governmental schools?” the pastor asked the congregation. “What’s behind this shooting that we saw on Dec. 14 in Newtown, Connecticut and the other one’s like it? What’s going on. Well, number one, deception… I got news for you, when you kicked God out of schools, you’re going to be judged for that.”

How about that?

A few days ago, I committed myself to working with two of my colleagues from the independent catholic movement to form an ecumenical committee named “Bishops for the Prevention of Violence.”  I hope that not only we will be successful in helping to bring about an end to gun violence, but we may also counteract the damage done by the words of Sam Morris.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pope bestows Blessings upon Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament

After ending my canonical relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, I promised myself that I would never engage in any form of "bad-mouthing" the jurisdiction I once belonged to and I re-affirmed that promise after I became a bishop within the Evangelical Catholic Church.

Today I read a news story that is forcing me to go back on that promise.

John Becker recently wrote a story in the Huffington Post titled: "Pope Blesses Uganda's Top "Kill the Gays" Lawmaker"  Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament was in Rome with a delegation of Ugandan lawmakers.  Speaker Kadaga has proposed "Kill the Gays" legislation in the Ugandan Parliament and hopes to see it past before the end of this year.

Upon presenting Pope Benedict XVI with a gift, Speaker Kadaga received a Papal Blessing from the Pope. Let me repeat this:  The Bishop of Rome publicly bestowed a Papal Blessing to a political leader working to enact a Holocaust of gay and lesbian Ugandans.  

As a result, Speaker Kadaga can now return to Uganda with pictures of her receiving her Papal Blessings and use it as a tool to push through her "Kill the Gays" legislation.  

Where is the outrage?  Why have so many voices elected to remain silent - just as they did so many years ago when Hitler came to power. 

Benedict XVI has sent a clear message to the world.  Will there be a response? 

This is just beyond me.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"They" couldn't get Obama, so they got Susan Rice instead

I was sorry to hear that UN Ambassador Susan Rice has asked to have her name removed from consideration at the next United States Secretary of State. Few individuals have the credentials or experience to step in the role of Secretary of State as Ambassador Rice. While I am convinced that President Obama will nominate someone who will serve our country well, it is a shame that John McCain and his band of thugs got away with the hatchet job they did on Ambassador Rice. Since McCain and Company could not defeat President Obama's re-election, they had to settle on Ambassador Rice as a surrogate.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn must appeal the order of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to force Illinois to enact legislation permitting Illinoisans to carry concealed handguns.

Today I sent a letter to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn urging him in the strongest of terms to appeal the decision of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to mandate the Illinois legislature to enact legislation permitting the people of Illinois to carry concealed handguns.

In my letter to the Governor, I said "We are at a time in our history when it is apparent to all that the plague of handgun violence must be addressed and steps must be taken to reduce the number of handguns and assault weapons that currently infest our cities and towns and which contributes to the number of premature deaths of our statewide family members.  Permitting Illinoisans to carry concealed handguns will guarantee a deadly surge in the “Rambo mentality,” thus insuring a drain on our law enforcement agencies, hospital emergency rooms and offices of our medical examiners. 

Permitting Illinoisans to carry concealed weapons will contribute to a loss of jobs in our states because small business owners will close their shops because of the higher cost of insurance and force their employees on the unemployment rolls.  Our state economy cannot afford this.

As a catholic bishop, I unconditionally beg you to also consider the moral and ethical obligations our elected officials have to protect the welfare and safety of our state wide community.  I have had to hold the hands of too many parents and spouses who have lost their loved ones to handgun violence and I have no desire to have those numbers increase because of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.  The morticians and undertakers of our state will always have their clients and I believe that the only positive outcome of this mandate would be an increase in their business.   Every person born into this world has the right to a life of possibilities and not destined to be a statistic in the book of victims. 

Many years ago, I stood with you in front of the Prudential Building in Chicago in the dead of winter fighting for those who were about to have their electricity shut off.  I said to you that “I hope that we here might make a difference.”  Your response to my statement was “We are obligated to protect the health and welfare for the people.”

For the sake of all Illinoisans I beg you to embrace those words and to fight this mandate in the United States Supreme Court.  I pledge to you all my help and support in such a fight.”

I fear that I need to begin to brace myself for the worst to come.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Advent Season for Gender-Common Marriage

Sometimes the gift of humor helps individuals and the community at large along its way in a discernment process.

"Soon we may live in a world where the only people opposed to gay marriage will be gay people who are married." –Craig Ferguson

"You know who is really against the president's position on gay marriage? Gay men afraid of commitment. Now they have no excuse." –Jay Leno

"Rev. Pat Robertson says that if more states legalize gay marriage, God will destroy America. He did say that afterwards, gays will come in and do a beautiful renovation." –Conan O'Brien

"When you're a gay couple getting married, who gets the bachelor party? Who goes downstairs in the middle of the night to check on the noise? Who forgets the anniversary? Who refuses to stop and ask for directions? And which one of you will take forever to get ready?" –David Letterman


"Recently, the highest court in South Africa handed down a decision ordering the country s parliament to extend marriage rights to all gay couples. So just to reiterate, American is now less progressive than South Africa." --Jon Stewart

While the Christian community is focused on the spirituality of Advent, there is another advent - a secular one which is building momentum towards its eventual birth.

Just for a quick reference, The word 'Advent' is from the Latin 'Adventus,' which means 'coming.'

I am speaking of the Advent for the legalization of gender-common marriages.

It seems to me that once the last votes (including Florida) were counted and President Obama was re-elected to a second term as President, the momentum to finally resolve the question of marriage equality has become almost as important a national concern as is the "fiscal-cliff" issue. I believe what has freed this momentum on its course is because the vocal minority in opposition to marriage equality and many other forms of human and civil rights has expounded its last roar.

This past weekend, George Will, the patriarch of conservative commentators and writers spoke the obvious on the ABC Sunday talk-show "This Week" said:

"There is something like an emerging consensus. Quite literally, the opposition to gay marriage is dying. It’s old people."

Mr. Will's assessment is correct.  The sadness is that it has taken so long for this matter of human rights and dignity to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

The older I become, the more distinction I see between "human time" and "God's time."  To be human and subservient to God's clock can be very difficult.  As marriage equality becomes a finalized realization, I cannot help thinking about countless numbers of those who never lived long enough to see this approaching day.  Like the former slaves who died just before the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the women who died just before the 15th Amendment to the Constitution or all those who died before the enactment of the 1965 Voting Rights Act - those who did not live to experience marriage equality must never be forgotten for it was their dream that kept the ember of hope alive through so many difficult years.

There is a sense of sadness in the reality of Mr. Will's comments because I think that it is indeed sad that we have to wait for the death of a generation in order for our society to progress and evolve forward.  As a bishop I have to ask myself where did the pastoral community fail in the spiritual formation of our people.  Why did we allow so many teachable moments to reform social and spiritual attitudes to slip through our fingers?  Why were we silent when we should have, as shepherds, been shouting out against injustice from the rooftops?  Why did we permit the power of bigotry and prejudice to prevail over goodness?  For these failures, many of us will have to answer in the next life.

I find some solace in the fact that my catholic jurisdiction went "against the current" and followed the call of the Holy Spirit to permit gender-common marriage in 1997 and I find additional comfort by seeing other jurisdictions beginning to welcome gender-common couples to marriage.

It is my hope and prayer that as human time and God's time has converged on the question of marriage equality we will not have to wait for generations to die before all of humanity has the opportunity to experience full and complete human rights and equality.

Thank you, God for this Advent.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bread for All, Work for All, Dignity for All: A Christian Revolution

On January 1st, 2013, my new Pastoral Letter "Bread for All, Work for All, Dignity for All: A Christian Revolution" will be officially released.

Since it is a bit long to post here on the blog, let me share with you the Abstract and then, if interested, you will be given the link to read the Pastoral online.

“Bread for All, Work for All, Dignity for All:  A Christian Revolution”

Bishop James Alan Wilkowski, MPS, MDiv.
Evangelical Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest
January 1, 2013

Despite the social and spiritual evolution of human rights and dignity, internal and external forces threaten to undermine their gains and sometimes succeed.

This Pastoral identifies select examples of bigotry and social injustice which the secular and theological world has had to content with and often overcame.

This Pastoral focuses on the attempted renaissance of bigotry, social injustice and cultural apartheid in America during 2012 and concurrent with the American Presidential Election. The Pastoral also articulates a “Christian Revolutionary” response to this renaissance that is based upon spiritual, social and psychological principles.

About the Author:

Bishop James Alan Wilkowski has been the Evangelical Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest since July of 1997.  He has been awarded a BA from Governors State University, a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University of Chicago and a Masters of Divinity from Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis.  The Bishop is currently in his second term as Presiding Bishop for the Evangelical Catholic Church.

The text for the Pastoral can be found at

The Covenant for Human Rights and Dignity Scroll Project

The Covenant 
Human Rights and Dignity Scroll Project
The journey towards insuring the basic human rights and dignity for all of God's people has been a fragile and complex one. 
Since the later half of the twentieth century, much progress has been made in the protecting of basic human rights and human dignity and also in an expansion in the understanding and applications of these concepts. 
Despite our growth in understanding the needs for protecting the human rights and dignity for all comes under many forms of threats - both indirect and direct.
The goal of this ecumenical and non-partisan Covenant for Human Rights and Dignity Scroll is to provide an opportunity for all peoples of good will to recommit themselves to the cause for Human Rights and Dignity.
We also wish to reach out and invite our young people - the generation of the future to embrace the work of previous generations to build a contemporary understanding of the importance of Human Rights and Dignity.
It is our hope that this traveling Scroll will remind society of it sacred Stewardship entrusted to us by God.
This Scroll shall bear the names of all who are committed to the work of protecting the Human Rights and Dignity of all God's Children.
 For those who wish to have their names added to the Scroll prior to having the opportunity of signing it in person, we invite you to send us a letter authorizing us to add your name. To insure authentic requests are processed, letters can be sent to us as an attached file via email at

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Comments, Phone Calls, Emails and other assorted Brickbats and Strange Stuff

November 22, 2012

It is amazing some of the comments and utterances I hear from people, not to mention some of the actions I see individuals take - along with some random thoughts....................

This evening I would like to share with you some random odds and ends that have been piling up on the corner of my desk:

Item - Message from a priest from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Crookston MN:  "You are the spawn of Satin."

Item - Phone call from someone with a vocation:  "Do I really have to go to the seminary to be part of your Church?  I've read the Bible.

Item - Questioned asked of my by employee at Jewel Food Stores in Chicago about a bottle of non-alcoholic wine used at Church:  "Do you only get half-drunk from this kind of wine?"

Item - Driving behind a double-deck Chicago touring bus while someone was throwing-up over the back.

Item - Trying to convince myself that Honey Boo-Boo is a scripted character.

Thought - When is George Ryan ever going to be released from prison?

So much for what is on my mind.  Time for a defrag of my brain.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The invaluable lessons to be learned from the Lennon Cihak case.

This past weekend has indeed witness the perfect sacramental and ecclesiastical storm.  

The name of this storm is Lennon Cihak, a young Catholic lad from Barnesville MN enjoying the fun of youth, living a private life and born with a conscience.  

As with the overwhelming majority of Americans, Lennon Cihak has a Facebook account.  Just before the November elections Lennon decided to exercise his constitutional right of free speech and thought by posting his support for marriage equality in our country. Mr. Cihak's support on this matter is just one of millions in this country who are supporting the very same cause.  In most cases, Lennon Cihak's support would be considered one in several million and his name would never emerge from the millions who also support this issue.


Lennon Cihak has been in preparation to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation at the Roman Catholic Church of the Assumption in Barnesville, MN - that was until the pastor of Assumption, the Reverend Gary LaMoine came across Lennon's Facebook page and saw Lennon supporting marriage equality and expelled Lennon from his confirmation preparations.  Father LaMoine informed Lennon that his support of marriage equality runs "contrary to Roman Catholic teachings that states that marriage can only take place between a man and a woman."  Father LaMoine also informed Lennon that if he would "stand before the congregation of Assumption and recant his heretical beliegs, he might be permitted to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.


The matter of Lennon Cihak has, of this date, become an international topic of conversation, thrusting a family from a small town in Minnesota into a media storm.  Father LaMoine is upset that this story is out in the open, if you will pardon the expression.  The Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Crookston has been officially "unavailable."

This story was forwarded to me by another of the bishops of the Evangelical Catholic Church, Bishop Joseph Ryan of Ireland and for the record I wish to state that I have reached out to the Cihak family to offer the Sacrament of Confirmation to their son, if they so desire.

But what I wish to attempt to discuss in this essay is the topics of rights, obligations and obediences of individuals and institutions.

The Roman Catholic Church, just like the Evangelical Catholic Church and all other institutions of faith has the unconditional right to enact any laws, regulations or norms binding ALL of its members to adherence. The Roman Catholic community has been and continues to be very clear regarding their theology on marriage.  When preparing candidates for the Confirmation, jurisdictions of faith make very clear to the candidates that the time for them to embrace the totality of their faith as adults has now come and when a candidate says "yes" to this responsibility - then their Church should count on their obedience to ALL aspects of the faith.  Obviously on the matter of marriage equality, young Lennon Cihak and the Roman Catholic Church holds two opposing opinions which gives the Roman Catholic Church the right to refuse the Sacrament to the young man.

So why did I stick my episcopal nose into the matter by offering to bestow upon the lad the Sacrament of Confirmation?  Because of conscious, faith and the Holy Spirit.

No matter which of the Catholic jurisdictions one belongs to, the expectations of the People of God is that their Church will take seriously its obligation to care for the souls of the faithful.  The actions of Father LaMoine and the Diocese of Crookston has abdicated their obligations to the soul of Lennon Cihak.  Because this young man has chosen to express his catholic faith inclusively, he paid the price of having the might weight and wrath of the institutional Roman Catholic Church pounce upon him.  One would think that young Mr. Cihak is the first and only Roman Catholic to hold a view that different from the institutional church.  Maybe the institutional Roman Catholic Church felt that they could make an example out of a 17 year old high school lad from Minnesota. I guess going after a 17 year old youth might not cause any blowback had the institutional Roman Catholic Church decided to excommunicate all adult women who hold active prescription for birth-control pills in their purses.  Is not the doctrine found in Humane Vitae just as important to uphold and police as their policies on marriage? Was isn't the Roman Catholic Church denying the Sacrament of Marriage to couples who have been living together for years or have elected not to have any children?  I guess it just comes down to the fact that a 17 year old lad is easier to go after.

Now that Lennon Cihak is now recognized as an adult with the gift of adult reasoning - I hope that this young adult might ask himself "is this jurisdiction of faith the one where I belong?"  Maybe this is a question that many of us should be asking ourselves.  

There is no question that the Roman Catholic Church has the right to enforce their laws.  They won the argument.  Too bad God and Lennon lost.

Monday, November 5, 2012

An Example of Unity within the Autocephalous Catholic Movement

On Saturday, November 3, 2012, in a simple and prayerful moment, the Evangelical Catholic Church and the United States Old Catholic Church signed a Concordat of Recognition entitled “Call to Shared Journey,” in Chicago.  Archbishop James Long and Bishop Douglas Prenya represented the United States Old Catholic Church and I represented the Evangelical Catholic Church as its Presiding Bishop.

Many remain unaware of the presence of the Autocephalous Catholic Movement. It is, simply put, Catholics who are members of smaller, yet validly consecrated “independent” jurisdictions throughout the world who seldom have any real sense of connection with one another. Here in the United States and also in Western Europe many such jurisdictions exist, though many struggle to document their claims of linkage within historic apostolic succession – a necessity to validly ordain to Orders and celebrate the catholic sacraments.

In the cases of the Evangelical Catholic Church and the United States Old Catholic Church, the validity of their roots in historic apostolic succession is a fact which makes them unique within Autocephalous Catholicism because since the 1980’s many Catholics laypersons who have found themselves pastorally orphaned have looked to the autocephalous catholic world to continue their journeys in faith. The autocephalous catholic world has also become a option for inactive priests who have married or for women called to the priestly vocation for consideration. Sadly, for many years those who have considered the autocephalous catholic option have found their choices anemic and underwhelming.

An educated eye will find, upon simply examination and research, many of those claiming to be bishops, priests and deacon have little, if any, academic or spiritual formation experience that one would expect of those holding these offices. Sadly many have little, if any, ministerial goals or agendas of service for the People of God. The potentiality of what the autocephalous could be has long been overshadowed and kept in bondage by the silliness of so many “dress-up” wannabes.

Since the 1990’s there has been a slow, but steady flow of seriously minded Catholics making investments into jurisdictions staffed by professionally trained bishops, priests and deacon who use contemporary protocols for screening their candidates and providing them with the best possible academic and spiritual formation. The People of God who are “crossing the Rubicon” to join these jurisdictions have already left behind their experiences with dysfunctionality and have no desire to take on a whole new boatload with a new jurisdiction.

I believe that for many years, those considering a move to the autocephalous catholic movement have also been turned off by the cattiness, ignorance and superegos of many of the “leaders” representing the movement.

Some within the autocephalous world have come to realize that one of the signs of apostasy in the early Christian Church was the bickering and disunity among Christians. Jesus said that the world would know that we were His disciples by the love that we have for one another (John 13:35). In Col. 3:14, it says that love is the perfect bond of unity. The New Testament speaks about us being unified in Christ (Eph. 4:5). In response to Christians who follow after individuals rather than Jesus, Paul says that Christ is not divided (1 Cor. 1:12-13). Though Christ is not divided, His body of believers where.

What is it that unites us?

Primarily, it is the saving work of Christ that unites us. Secondarily, it is the essential doctrines that define orthodoxy. We have, as a common heritage, the blood of Christ that has been shed for the forgiveness of our sins. True Christians serve the true and living God and we know Jesus in a personal and intimate way (1 Cor. 1:9). We have been redeemed by God himself. Furthermore, we have the body of Scriptures which tell us the essentials of the faith and deviating from these essentials means to be outside the camp of Christ. It is the essential doctrines that we must know and unite ourselves within.

To best understand these facts, candidates for the priesthood need to be grounded with a sound academic formation. Several years ago, the United States Old Catholic Church established the Saint John the Evangelist Seminary. The academic goals and standards of this seminary are consistent with the academic formation goals of any Roman Catholic seminary. In 2011 the Evangelical Catholic Church committed itself to sending their candidates to Saint John’s for their academic formation.

The apostle Paul also recognized the value of unity. From his own sufferings in Philippi he knew the infant Church faced determined opposition. Paul warned his friends of opponents, suffering and conflict soon to come. Paul’s central concern to the Church at Corinth was also a concern of division. Paul expressed his concern with these words, “I appeal to you brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” The Corinthians had formed cliques based upon the supposed superiority of various leaders. These divisions had shattered the unity of the local congregation and created dissension. Paul’s focus here is that the division in the Corinthian Church was wrong. Paul’s goal in his writing is found in the first sentence where he urges them to resolve their differences and restore unity in their Church fellowship.

Our two jurisdictions have come together at this moment in time to witness the embracing of Paul’s goals. This unprecedented instrument witnesses a desire between these two jurisdictions to embrace unity and respect rather than continue to perpetuate the examples of disunity and counter productivity Paul attempted to heal with the Church at Corinth.

For many years, our two communities of faith have been walking nearly identical sacramental, ecclesial and liturgical paths until the Holy Spirit chose the opportune time for them to discover each other.

The Concordat of Recognition focuses on these important matters of faith:

Agreement in the Doctrine of the Faith
Agreement in Ministry
Commitment to Share Episcopal Succession
Interchangeability of Clergy

This Concordat of Recognition is also the realization and acknowledgement of our mutual call to a shared journey in faith, life and vocation to serve the People of God. It has also become our combined obligation to also help reform take place within the autocephalous catholic movement. Despite the self-inflicted damage it has done to itself over the years, renovation and restoration is light at the end of the tunnel which is clearly visible to those wishing to role up their sleeves and does the work.

The Concordat states that “Recognizing each other as churches in which the gospel is truly preached and the holy sacraments duly administered, we receive with thanksgiving the gift of unity which is already given in Christ.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers -- all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:15-20).

Repeatedly Christians have echoed the scriptural confession that the unity of the church is both Christ's own work and his call to us. It is therefore our task as well as his gift. We must "make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3). We pray that we may rely upon, and willingly receive from one another, the gifts Christ gives through his Spirit "for building up the body of Christ" in love (Ephesians 4:16).”

We pray that this commitment will witness the grace of unity hoped for by St. Paul when he wrote, "Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose" (Phil. 2:2).

Many thanks to Rick Garcia who oversaw the signing ceremony and Professor Mark Wojcik of the John Marshall School of Law for being the office witness to the documents.

Friday, October 26, 2012

John Sununu and John McCain owe Colin Powell an apology

Talk about a bad case of follow the leader.

Nothing I ever studied in Political Science has prepared me for what I have been witnessing during this week of the Presidential Campaign

Earlier this week, former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu a member of the Romney Presidential Campaign denounced Gen. Colin Powell's endorsement of President Obama's reelection as President.  Governor Sununu's remarked on CNN that Powell was endorsing Obama "because he is black."  Today, former "maverick" Sen. John McCain R-AZ pounced on Gen. Powell for his endorsement and called for Powell's excommunication from the Republican Party.

Throughout this campaign, racism has been a significant undercurrent kept just below the surface, but publicly expressed with many "code words."  Now it seems that the racism of Sununu and others are like a volcano that has to explode from time to time and this week has been the week of the racist volcano.

One would hope that we have come to a point in American History, emotional maturity and spirituality whereby racism, like polio had all but been eliminated from our lives.

If we don't eliminate racism from our politics now - when?  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Update on the Reverend Canon Michael Bonnett

I am pleased to share with you the ongoing recovery process of the Very Reverend Michael Bonrnett.

Fr. Mike is recovering from surgery and is progressing well with his recovery program.  We are hoping to see Fr. Mike returing home soon.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Recognizing a bully in the workplace.

How do I recognise a bully in the workplace?

Most bullying is traceable to one person, male or female - bullying is not a gender issue. Bullies are often clever people (especially female bullies) but you can be clever too.

Who does this describe in your life?

Jekyll & Hyde nature - vicious and vindictive in private, but innocent and charming in front of witnesses; no-one can (or wants to) believe this individual has a vindictive nature - only the current target sees both sides.

is a convincing, compulsive liar and when called to account, will make up anything spontaneously to fit their needs at that moment.

uses lots of charm and is always plausible and convincing when peers, superiors or others are present; the motive of the charm is deception and its purpose is to compensate for lack of empathy.

relies on mimicry to convince others that they are a "normal" human being but their words, writing and deeds are hollow, superficial and glib.

displays a great deal of certitude and self-assuredness to mask their insecurity.

excels at deception.

exhibits unusual inappropriate attitudes to sexual matters or sexual behaviour; underneath the charming exterior there are often suspicions or intimations of sexual harassment, sex discrimination or sexual abuse (sometimes racial prejudice as well).

exhibits much controlling behaviour and is a control freak.

displays a compulsive need to criticise whilst simultaneously refusing to acknowledge, value and praise others.

when called upon to share or address the needs and concerns of others, responds with impatience, irritability and aggression.

often has an overwhelming, unhealthy and narcissistic need to portray themselves as a wonderful, kind, caring and compassionate person, in contrast to their behaviour and treatment of others; the bully is oblivious to the discrepancy between how they like to be seen (and believe they are seen), and how they are actually seen.

has an overbearing belief in their qualities of leadership but cannot distinguish between leadership (maturity, decisiveness, assertiveness, trust and integrity) and bullying (immaturity, impulsiveness, aggression, distrust and deceitfulness).

when called to account, immediately and aggressively denies everything, then counter-attacks with distorted or fabricated criticisms and allegations; if this is insufficient, quickly feigns victimhood, often by bursting into tears (the purpose is to avoid answering the question and thus evade accountability by manipulating others through the use of guilt).

is also ... aggressive, devious, manipulative, spiteful, vengeful, doesn't listen, can't sustain mature adult conversation, lacks a conscience, shows no remorse, is drawn to power, emotionally cold and flat, humourless, joyless, ungrateful, dysfunctional, disruptive, divisive, rigid and inflexible, selfish, insincere, insecure, immature and deeply inadequate, especially in interpersonal skills.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why Evangelical Catholics are Evangelical

Historic Roots of Evangelization

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:19,20). With these words, Jesus Christ, before he ascended to heaven to take his place at the right hand of God the Father (cf. Eph 1:20), sent his disciples forth to proclaim the Good News to the whole world. They were a small group who were called to be witnesses of Jesus of Nazareth, his earthly life, his teaching, his death and above all his resurrection (cf. Acts 1:22). Though this great task seemed an impossibility, the Lord Jesus offered them encouragement by promising the gift of the Paraclete, whom the Father will send in his name (cf. Jn 14:26) and who "will guide [them]... into all the truth" (Jn 16:13). In addition, he assured them of his abiding presence: "and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:20).

After Pentecost, when the fire of God's love rested on the Apostles (cf. Acts 2:3) who were gathered together in prayer "with the women and Mary the Mother of Jesus, and with his brothers" (Acts 1:14), the Lord Jesus' mandate began to be realized. The gift of the Holy Spirit, abundantly poured out by Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 3:34), was the beginning of the Church, which is missionary by its very nature. In fact, immediately after receiving the anointing of the Spirit, St. Peter the Apostle "stood...lifted up his voice" (Acts 2:14) and proclaimed salvation in the name of Jesus, whom "God has made...both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). Transformed by the gift of the Spirit, the disciples went out into the then-known world to spread the "Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mk 1:1). Their proclamation reached the Mediterranean area, Europe, Africa and Asia. Guided by the Spirit who is bestowed by the Father and the Son, their successors continued their mission, which remains "in season" until the end of the ages. As long as she exists in this world, the Church must proclaim the Gospel of the coming of the Kingdom of God, the teaching of her Master and Lord and, above all, the Person of Jesus Christ.

The word "Gospel", τò εύ αγγέλιον, was already being used in the early days of the Church, oftentimes employed by St. Paul to indicate the entire new economy of salvation (cf. 1 Thess 1:5ff; Gal 1:6-9ff) and the preaching of the Gospel, divinely entrusted to him (cf. 1 Thess 2:4) and carried out "in the face of great opposition" (1 Thess 2:2). The term "Gospel", in addition to citations found in St. Mark (cf. Mk 1:14, 15: 8:35; 10:29; 13: 10; 14:9; 16:15), is oftentimes used by St. Matthew the Evangelist to designate "the Gospel of the Kingdom" (Mt 9:35; 24:14; cf. 26:13). St. Paul also uses the expression "to evangelize" (εύ αγγελίσασθαι, cf. 2 Cor 10:16), a term found as well in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. Acts 8:4, 12, 25, 35, 40) and one which received greater development throughout the history of Catholicism.

In recent times, the term "evangelization" refers to every aspect of the Church's activity. In the wider context of evangelization, particular attention is dedicated to the proclamation of the Good News to persons and peoples who, until now, have not known the Gospel of Jesus Christ or have been excluded from it.

In the Decree Ad gentes, the Second Vatican Council emphasized the missionary nature of the entire Church. In accordance with the mandate of her founder, Jesus Christ, Christians not only are to provide the support of their prayers and material resources to missionaries, namely those who proclaim the Gospel to all persons, but are themselves called to contribute to spreading the Kingdom of God in the world.

The Urgency to Evangelization

At the conclusion of the 1997 Synod of the bishops, clergy and laity which created and formed the Evangelical Catholic Church, the topic of the evangelization was at the top of the it’s agenda. "During the work of the Synod what was often understood was the need to offer the Gospel anew to people who do not know it very well or to those who have historically been excluded from it.” What was often evoked was the need for a new evangelization for the People of God. This was quite a widespread theme, especially in the United States where Catholicism has long established roots. It was this obvious realization that the primary mission facing this newly established catholic faith community was to emulate the work of the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and of the early church to preach, teach, give witness and to unconditionally welcome all to the sacramental, spiritual and liturgical life of the Catholic faith. The more which we embraced and focused on the evangelical mission before us, it became obvious to one and all that the name of this new catholic jurisdiction should be the Evangelical Catholic Church.

The Duty to Evangelize

In proclaiming and transmitting the faith, the Evangelical Catholic Church imitates God who communicates himself through the gift of his Son to humanity, who lives in Trinitarian communion and who pours out the Holy Spirit so as to carry on a dialogue with humanity. So that evangelization might mirror this divine communication, the Church must allow herself to be formed by the Spirit and make herself configured to Christ crucified, who reveals to the world the features of God's love and communion. In this way, the Church will rediscover her vocation as Ecclesia mater, who begets children for the Lord by transmitting the faith to them and teaching them the love which generates and nourishes all of her children. The center of proclamation is Jesus Christ, who is believed and to whom a person bears witness. Transmitting the faith essentially means to transmit the Scriptures, primarily the Gospel, which give a person the opportunity of knowing the unconditional love of Jesus, the Lord.

St. Paul the Apostle acknowledges the primary role of the action of the Spirit at a particularly intense and meaningful time for the nascent Church. In fact, some believers felt that other roads were to be taken; others among the first Christians displayed an uncertainty in facing and making some basic choices. The process of evangelization became a process of discernment. Proclamation first requires moments of listening, understanding and interpretation.

Our New Millennium

In many ways, our times are similar to those in which St. Paul lived. As Evangelical Catholics, we too find ourselves immersed in a period of significant historical and cultural change. Evangelical activity demands that we undertake a similar, corresponding and timely activity of discernment and pro-active response. Today, the humanity and society are involved in a new stage of history. Profound and rapid changes are spreading by degrees around the whole world. Since our 1997 Synod, these changes have steadily increased over the years and, unlike in those times, have brought with them not only hopes and dreams of a more spiritual healthy and inclusive world, but also fear and skepticism. The initial decade of this new millennium, has witnessed developments which have indelibly marked the history of humanity and dramatically affected it in many ways.

We are living in a particularly significant, historic moment of change, of tension and of a loss of social and spiritual equilibrium and points of reference. These times are increasingly forcing many to live immersed in the present and in passing things which make it increasingly difficult for us to listen, to transmit an appreciation for the past and to share values on which to build the future for new generations. In this context, the Evangelical Catholic presence and the work of the Church's institutions are not easily perceived and, at times, are even looked upon with great reservation and condemnation. In the last decades, repeated criticism has been leveled at the Church and the God we proclaim. Consequently, evangelization is facing new challenges which are putting accepted practices in question and are challenging, well-established ways of doing things. In a word, the Kingdom of God on Earth is requiring the Evangelical Catholic Church to consider, in an entirely new way, how she proclaims and transmits the faith.

Discernment requires distinguishing the subjects and themes which need our attention, listening and common discussion. To sustain the Church's evangelizing activity and make any required changes, our exercise of discernment must place the essential aspects of this ecclesial task at the centre of our consideration, namely, the beginnings, growth and progress of the "evangelization" within our faith community; the manner in which the Evangelical Catholic Church assumes and fulfils her responsibility and task of transmitting the faith today; and the actual means at Her disposal to be utilized, in today's world, to generate the faith (Christian initiation, education) and to meet today's challenges. In this way, discernment will become more attuned and even more "catholic" and "universal".

What we are and are not

There are many peoples and bodies of faith which have placed great importance to being evangelical. To those jurisdictions of faith, the Evangelical Catholic Church proclaims its respects to your beliefs and interpretations of Scripture.

The Evangelical Catholic Church is a catholic community of faith rooted in the catholic tradition. In our collective discernment process, we believe that we have been called to embrace and evangelize areas of growth and evolution within Catholicism.

We believe that the Holy Spirit has called us to be a catholic community of faith that is neither fundamental or liberal. In our journey we believe that we are called to be guided by the Holy Spirit, empowered by the Sacraments and supported by our ecclesiology to continue discerning how we can best evangelize and share our gift of faith with all of humanity.

This was the journey traveled by the Four Evangelists in the beginning of our Church. It was the journey embraced by Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa in 1937 - and the Evangelical Catholic Church assumes this same renewed journey today.

We hope that this effort will provide an understanding of the Evangelical name, nature and vocation of this catholic community of faith.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bullying in the Workplace

I have been encouraged by having the following sent to me and I wish to share it with you.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, bully.

"Bullying is a compulsive need to displace aggression and is achieved by the expression of inadequacy (social, personal, interpersonal, behavioural, professional) by projection of that inadequacy onto others through control and subjugation (criticism, exclusion, isolation etc). Bullying is sustained by abdication of responsibility (denial, counter-accusation, pretence of victimhood) and perpetuated by a climate of fear, ignorance, indifference, silence, denial, disbelief, deception, evasion of accountability, tolerance and reward (eg promotion) for the bully."

Tim Field, 1999

Monday, September 3, 2012

When Churches Stalk Ex-Members

It seems that the sin and illness of stalking and bullying have found a new home within some church denominations.

Permit me to begin with this theory: Membership within any Church body is a personal and private decision. There are no civil or church laws which states that individuals are bound to lifetime membership. Thus, if any individuals feels compelled to join another Church to continue their spiritual journey - they are free to do so.

Like any pastor, I rejoice when anyone joins the Evangelical Catholic Church and I am saddened when someone elects to go elsewhere and when someone chooses to move elsewhere I must respect their decision and wish them Godspeed.

Apparently, not all within the pastoral community seems to share this belief.

This past August, the Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest accepted a candiate for Clerical Incardination. This is when a priest from another jurisdiction desires to transfer their priesthood to us. In this particular case, Father David Verhasselt elected to come to the Evangelical Catholic Church from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee. After choosing to become a member of the Evangelical Catholic Church, the Diocese, after fully reviewing Father's records, according him the opportunity to begin the one-year process of incardination and granted him faculities to establish Holy Name of Jesus Evangelical Catholic Church is Wisconsin.

Let me state for the record that in transferring his personal membership to the Evangelical Catholic Church, Father David resigned as priest and member of the Roman Catholic Church and Archdiocese of Milwaukee before he was canonically received into our jurisdiction on August 4th, 2012. On August 10th, 2012, I sent a letter to Archbishop Jerome Listecki requesting a official copy of Father David's records.

Despite Father David's resignation from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and my letter to Archbishop Listecki, one would surmise that the Archdiocese would accept facts and simply say goodbye to Father David and wish him Godspeed.

Sadly, the response and reaction of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has been one of stalking and bullying.

Prior to becoming a member of the Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest, Father David had been a profoundly sucessful priest and pastor. After announcing plans to establish Holy Name of Jesus Evangelical Catholic Church, Father David found over 100 families interested in coming and supporting this new parish. Once the address of our new parish was announced, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee had one of their highest ranking officials contact those who were willing to provide us worship space and ask them to resind their decision.

If that action wasn't regretable enough, a number of strange items began to appear in the media.

On August 23rd, 2012, reporter Tracy Rusch of the Catholic Herald, the official newpaper of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee wrote an article "Former pastor allegedly leaves Roman Catholic Church." In her article, Ms. Rusch wrote that "Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki is investigating an allegation that Fr. David Verhasselt, former pastor of St. Catherine Parish in Mapleton, is leaving the Roman Catholic Church to become a priest in the Evangelical Catholic Church." Ms. Rusch also quoted Archbishp Listecki saying that “If true, Father’s choice to become a priest of the Evangelical Catholic Church separates him from the Roman Catholic Church, and would result in his immediate excommunication.”

Remembering my own studies of the Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church, I do not remember it ever stating that the Roman Church can excommuniate a former member.

I was further amazed when Ms. Rusch quoted Ms. Zabrina Decker, tribunal chancellor and canon lawyer for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Despite all of the communicatuion from Father David and my own letter to Archbishop Listecki, Ms. Decker stated that "a priest can’t resign from the presbyterate, so Fr. Verhasselt is still on administrative leave and his appeal is still pending in Rome."

Sounds like China's attitude and posture towards Taiwan.

In addition to that which appeared in the Catholic Herald, Ms. Julie Wolf of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee gave a more dramatic interview with EWTN reporter Hillary Senour. Ms. Senour's story was published under the headline "MILWAUKEE PRIEST & PARISHONERS FACE POSSIBLE EX-COMMUNICATION"

Permit me to share some of the points of Ms. Senour's story.

A Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee faces excommunication following reports of being named pastor at a non-Catholic church.

Father Dave Verhasselt has reportedly left the Catholic Church to become pastor at the Holy Name of Jesus Evangelical Catholic Church.

In an Aug. 9 e-mail to area clergy, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee said he was “saddened” to have to share the “difficult and painful” news of Fr. Verhasselt's dissent.

Julie Wolf, communication director for the Milwaukee archdiocese, told EWTN News Aug. 23 that Archbishop Listecki is obligated by canon law to investigate the reports that Fr. Verhasselt has left.

“If found to be true, Father’s choice to become a priest of the Evangelical Catholic Church separates him from the Roman Catholic Church, and would result in his immediate excommunication,” she said.

According to an Aug. 6 press release from the Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest, Fr. Verhasselt has become the pastor of a parish, Holy Name of Jesus in Ashippun, Wis.

Prior to leaving the Church, Fr. Verhasselt was at St. Catherine of Alexandria parish in Oconomowoc, Wis.

Fr. Verhasselt appealed Archbishop Listecki's decree to the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith in Rome and then wrote a letter informing the archbishop he was resigning from the presbyterate.

Wolf said the archdiocese has no “concrete information” on how many members of St. Catherine's parish have decided to also leave the Catholic Church with Fr. Verhasselt.

“We really have no way of knowing this,” she said.

Should parishioners choose to follow Fr. Verhasselt out of the Catholic Church, they would also face possible excommunication.

“If someone separates themselves from the practice of their Catholic faith by virtue of participation in another faith tradition, it would be our fervent prayer they someday reunite themselves with the faith tradition of their Baptism,” Wolf said.

I am profoundly saddened that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee would play the excommunication card against anyone who visits Holy Name of Jesus Parish. To me, it seems that the bottom line for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee isn't that Father David excardinated from them - it is that members of the laity are choosing to celebrate Mass at Holy Name of Jesus. I seriously doubt that 200 people visiting Holy Name of Jesus will bring about the end of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Stalking and bullying the laity is not what builds up the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Celebrating the birth of Holy Name of Jesus Evangelical Catholic Church

On Saturday, August 4th, 2012, Canon Michael Bonnet, Father Peter McGechie and I drove up to Ashippun Wisconsin to celebrate the birth of Holy Name of Jesus Evangelical Catholic Church and for me to canonically receive Father David Verhasselt as a member of our Church and to appoint him as pastor of Holy Name.

Nearly 200 individuals attended this Mass as a show of support for our new mission parish and to support Father David as he completes his process of clerical incardination.

I am excited by the birth of this new community and humbled by their confidence in the Evangelical Catholic Church.

I continue to pray that God will bless us with more like Father David and the community of Holy Name of Jesus.

The Passing of Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell

A few weeks ago I learned of the death of Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell. Tony O'Connell, known to many as "OC" was the director of vocations who invited me to join the Diocese of Jefferson City MO after my sponsorship by the Diocese of Joliet had ended.The story of Bishop O'Connell, especially his downfall after acknowledging many, many years of sexual abuse with seminarians, has been well published and there is no need for me to recall its soridness in the blog.

My injury by O'Connell was never sexual, but rather best described as formational malpractice. During my entire time with Jefferson City, O'Connell had no idea as anything going on with me. When I completed my studies for my Maters of Divinity at Kenrick Seminary one semester ahead of schedule, his response to me was "Oh, you're done?"

O'Connell escaped imprisionment for his actions by finding sanctuary at the Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, S.C. He remained under their strict supervision until his death in May. It has been reported that O'Connell lead a life of pennance at the Abbey and worked at duties common for all of the monks including "feeding the chickens." Sadly, that is what got O'Connell in trouble in the first place.

The news of O'Connell's death left me rather sad. My anger at him and the Diocese of Jefferson City has long past been overshadowed and healed from nearly 20 years of combined priesthood and episcopal ministry. Some years ago, I had planned on going to South Carolina to see him face to face and to ask for an explanation for his actions towards me, but I never did. I know now, more than ever, the meaning of the phrase that life is too short. I learned to simply put him and our entired shared time together in God's hands.And now that he has left this life, I hope that he was able to make his peace with God.

So I leave him for all time in God's hands.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Let Illinois Set Example for Gun Control

I had hoped that the shootings of then Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords might have served as the long awaited engine to power the movement to ban many of the most deadliest guns currently endangering the streets of the United States.  Sadly the NRA flexed its muscles and Washington did nothing to protect the lives of American Citizens.

I am now hoping the the recent shootings in Colorado might be the spark which would finally produce some positive results.  While Washington remains unable to address this issue, it seems that it might be up to the individual states to lead the way to get these military styled guns off the streets.

I am hopeful that the recently announced efforts by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to ban and rid the State of Illinois of these guns will encourage other states and their governors to follow suit.  Sadly, Governor Quinn does not possess a magic wand to enact real gun control in our State.  Rather, it is going to up the citizens of our state to stand behind our Governor and to support his efforts unconditionally because the NRA will throw all of its might and weight to defeat any form of common sense gun control legislation.

As Evangelical Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest, I ask the citizens of this State to stand behind our Governor, work to insure passage of reasonable gun control legislation.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thank you to a little friend for 17 years

As much as I would like to downplay the fact - the truth is that I am a pet lover. I grew up in a household with pets and have continued to have them - until last month.

17 years ago, a calico kitten was adopted by my parents. After my dad died, my mother moved in with me and brought also their two cats to add to the one I already had. In the course of time, the older two cats died of old age, leaving my mother and I with the Calico.

Calicos are a unique breed of cats. They have very defined personalities and often do those things which they choose two. They are very much family cats.

When my mother underwent cancer surgery, our cat sleep on her pillow every night she was gone and when she finally came home from the hospital she curled right up next to her for the enter night. She was in fact her bodyguard - coming upstairs to get me if my mom was having some sort of problem.

When I came home after my heart surgery she became a complete lap cat. And if I wasn't ready for her to climb up on my lap, she would climb up on the arm of my recliner and stare at me until I got her pillow and put in on my lap so she could curl up.

This past February, I knew that age had caught up with her and her extreme weight loss could not be ignored. By middle March she could no longer eat or drink and her breathing had become labored. My parents never believed in euthanizing - they rather went to extreme measures to attempt saving our dying pets. This time, I couldn't put either my little calico or me thought any unnecessary suffering and so I broke Wilkowski family precedent and had our vet end her struggles. It has been almost one month since her suffering came to an end and I still find myself carrying around some guilt for doing so. Pet lovers understand. Others might not.

I had my little Calico cremated and her urn is under my bed - one of her favorite places to curl up.

What a good little cat she was.

Monday, January 30, 2012

My Letter to Governor Quinn regarding the Cook County Morgue scandal.

The Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest
Post Office Box 178388
Chicago Illinois 60617-8388

Office of the Bishop

January 30, 2012

The Honorable Pat Quinn
Governor for the State of Illinois
Office of the Governor
207 State House
Springfield Illinois 62706

Dear Governor Quinn:

I hope that this letter finds you well.

I am writing to you in my capacity as the Evangelical Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest regarding the latest scandal that has hit the Cook County Morgue.

It is my belief that the current policies of the Cook County Morgue regarding the final disposition of the remains of indigents are outdated for the Twenty-First century. I believe that the practice of burial by mass grave is disrespectful to the basic dignity of human life. We do better with the carcasses of animal road kill than we do with the remains of the indigents.

I am reaching out to you to ask your assistance to the creation of legislation that would standardized within the State of Illinois a common policy for the final disposition of the remains of indigents.

Permit me the opportunity to share with you recommendations which I have made to Cook County Board President Preckwinkle on this matter:

• Upon taking custody of remains, the County Medical Examiner will obtain the DNA of the deceased and created an ID record with this information.

• After remains have been in the custody of the County for more than 60 days, they will be cremated and place in a simple container with a file identification number attached and returned to the custody of the County for storage in a non-refrigerated location with the hope of possible reuniting with family.

• If the cremains of indigents are not claimed within one year, the County can purchase one or two traditional size grave lots and install an ossuary as a final dignified resting place for the cremains of the indigents. And if at some future date in time, a family member becomes identified, they may be directed to where there family member has been placed at rest.

I realize that these suggestions represents a “broad stroke” remedy to this scandal, but I believe that the current scandal that has again happened in Cook County calls our state community to consider thinking outside of the current box to policies for new and caring policies which will allow the State of Illinois to become the template for others to follow.

I invite you to consider my plea to you and to help create the appropriate legislation to redress this issue.

Please know that I have committed myself to this issue and to walk whatever lengths to prevent such scandals from happening again. It is my prayer that you would join me in this journey.

I thank you for taking the time to consider this letter and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Until then, I remain

Most Respectfully Yours,

James Alan Wilkowski
Evangelical Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest

Friday, January 13, 2012

Your bullying boss may be slowly killing you!

I would like to share with you a recent article by Stephanie Pappas from LiveScience:

41 percent of American workers having been psychologically harassed at work

If you spend your workday avoiding an abusive boss, tiptoeing around co-workers who talk behind your back, or eating lunch alone because you've been ostracized from your cubicle mates, you may be the victim of workplace bullying. New research suggests that you're not alone, especially if you're struggling to cope.
Employees with abusive bosses often deal with the situation in ways that inadvertently make them feel worse, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Stress Management. That's bad news, as research suggests that workplace abuse is linked to stress — and stress is linked to a laundry list of mental and physical ailments, including higher body weight and heart disease.
In at least one extreme case, workplace bullying has even been linked to suicide, much as schoolyard bullying has been linked to a rash of suicides among young people.

Bullying is "a form of abuse which carries tremendous health harm," said Gary Namie, a social psychologist who directs the Workplace Bullying Institute. "That's how you distinguish it from tough management or any of the other cutesy ways people use to diminish it."

Struggle to cope

Namie was not involved in the new study, which surveyed nearly 500 employees about how they dealt with abusive supervision. Abusive supervisors are bosses who humiliate and insult their employees, never let them forget their mistakes, break promises and isolate employees from other co-workers, study author Dana Yagil of the University of Haifa in Israel told LiveScience.

About 13 to 14 percent of Americans work under an abusive supervisor, Yagil said. Her study on Israeli workers found that abused employees tend to cope by avoiding their bosses, seeking support from co-workers and trying to reassure themselves. As useful as those strategies might sound, however, they actually made employees feel worse.

"It is understandable that employees wish to reduce the amount of their contact with an abusive boss to the minimum, but the strategies they use actually further increase their stress instead of reducing it," Yagil said. "This may happen because these strategies are associated with a sense of weakness and perpetuate the employee's fear of the supervisor."

Tragic consequences

Avoiding a workplace bully might seem easier than avoiding a school bully, given that employees can quit their jobs. But workers get caught in a cycle of stress, Namie said. An online survey of targeted workers by the WBI found that they put up with the abuse for an average of 22 months.

The stress of the bullying may itself lead to bad decision-making, Namie said. A 2009 study in the journal Science found that stressed-out rats fail to adapt to changes in their environment. A portion of the stressed rats' brains, the dorsomedial striatum, actually shrunk compared with that region in relaxed rats. The findings suggest that stress may actually re-wire the brain, creating a decision-making rut. The same may occur in bullied workers, Namie said.

"This is why a person can't make quality decisions," he said. "They can't even consider alternatives. Just like a battered spouse, they don't even perceive alternatives to their situations when they're stressed and depressed and under attack."

Sometimes this cycle ends with tragedy. Namie works as an expert legal witness on bullying. In one upcoming case, he said, a woman put up with daily barrages of screaming abuse from her boss for a year. By the end, she was working 18-hour days, trying to shield the employees under her from her boss' tyranny, Namie said. Finally, she and several of her co-workers put together a 25-page complaint to human resources. Nothing happened, until she was called in for a meeting with senior management. The woman knew she would be fired for making the complaint, Namie said.

"Rather than allowing herself to be terminated, she bought a pistol, went to work, left three suicide notes, and she took her own life at work," he said.

"She was like that rat stuck in a rut," he added. "She didn't see any alternative at that point."

Why bullying happens

While all workplace-bullying cases are not so extreme, it does seem to be a common problem, said Sandy Herschcovis, a professor of business administration at the University of Manitoba who studies workplace aggression. Between 70 and 80 percent of Americans report rudeness and incivility at work, Herschcovis told LiveScience. Fewer are systematically bullied, she said, but the best estimate puts the number at about 41 percent of American workers having been psychologically harassed at work at some point.

Hierarchical organizations such as the military tend to have higher rates of bullying, Herschcovis said, as do places where the environment is highly competitive.

"Definitely the organizational context contributes," Herschcovis said.
The personality of the bully is often key, with some research suggesting that childhood bullies become bullies as adults, she said. Targets of bullying are often socially anxious, have low self-esteem, or have personality traits such as narcissism, Herschcovis said. "We don't want to blame the victim, but we recognize this more and more as a relationship" between the bully and the target, she said.
Little research has been done on how to deal with abusive bosses or bullying co-workers. In mild cases, where a boss may not realize how their behavior is coming across, direct confrontation might work, Yagil said. One research-based program that seems to have potential is called the Civility, Respect and Engagement at Work project, Herschcovis said. That program has been shown to improve workplace civility, reduce cynicism and improve job satisfaction and trust among employees, she said. The program has employees discuss rudeness and incivility in their workplace and make plans to improve.

For workers experiencing bullying, Herschcovis recommended reporting specific behavior to higher-ups, as well as examining one's own behavior. Sometimes victims inadvertently contribute to the bullying relationship, she said. Namie cautioned that victims should proceed with care, however, as there are no anti-bullying workplace laws on the books in the U.S.

"HR [human resources] has no power or clout to make senior management stop," Namie said. "Without the laws, they're not mandated to make policies, and without the mandate, they don’t know what to do."

Since 2003, 21 states have introduced some version of anti-bullying bills, but none have yet passed. Twelve states have legislation pending in 2012, according to

In the meantime, Herschcovis and her colleagues have found that bystanders in the workplace are usually sympathetic to the victim rather than the bully.
"Outside parties are most likely to want to intervene, and to be in a position to intervene," Herschcovis said. The trick, she added, will be to find ways to encourage co-workers to stand up for one another.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hopes and Wishes for 2012

I hope that 2012 will enable us to celebrate:

*Freedom from our economic depression.
*The return of all our troops home.
*Workplaces that ensures the dignity and respect of all workers.
*Social and Religious Leadership that natures and not divides.
*An end to reality television shows.
*Universal Health Care for all persons.
*Food, Clothing and Housing for those in need.
*The grace of living in community.
*Peace at home and abroad.
*Equal rights and dignity for all persons.
*The success of my students and all students.

Just wishing.