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.