Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mr. President, lets to something to end the beheadings of our loved ones

Office of the Presiding Bishop

The Evangelical Catholic Church
Post Office Box 170336  Chicago Illinois 60617-0336
(T)     773-721-5383  (F) 773-721-2581

November 16, 2014

The Honorable Barak Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Via email

Dear Mr. President:

This Sunday morning I awoke to the news that another American has been beheaded by ISIL.  While I remain grateful and supportive of all your efforts to contain the evil of ISIL, I am emboldened enough to respect ask for your consideration of the following:

First, a declaration quarantining the geographical region where ISIL is present and active. 

Second, the ordering of all American civilians within said quarantined areas to return either home or to known safe places where the possibility of being kidnapped by ISIL would be all but eliminated.

I understand that some would dismiss my request as harsh and drastic.  Nevertheless, amongst the goals of our government to find and cut off the financial funding and arms to ISIL, why can we not add cutting off the availability of innocent American civilians for ISIL to kidnap and murder.  Our national family must not have to endure any more slaughtering of our loved ones.

I thank you for considering my request and please know that you have my prayers and support in your efforts to combat the evil of ISIL.

I remain,

Respectfully Yours,

Bishop James Alan Wilkowski
Presiding Bishop for the Evangelical Catholic Church

“A Welcoming Community of Faith Rooted in the Catholic Tradition”

Office of the Presiding Bishop

Press Release

The Evangelical Catholic Church
Post Office Box 170336  Chicago Illinois 60617-0336
(T)    773-721-5383  (F) 773-721-2581

For Immediate Release
Chicago, Illinois

November 16, 2014

Presiding Bishop’s Letter to POTUS regarding latest ISIL beheading

Please find attached Bishop Wilkowski’s letter to POTUS regarding the lastest beheading of a American citizen by ISIL.

For additional information please contact:

William R. Morton
Director of Media and Communication
The Evangelical Catholic Church

“A Welcoming Community of Faith Rooted in the Catholic Tradition”

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My trip of Bend Oregon and the Dedication of Holy Communion Evangelical Catholic Church

On June 6th, bolstered with several  Jack Daniels & Coke Zeros, I mustered up the courage to board Alaskan Airlines for my first trip to Oregon in nearly 50 years for the dedication of Holy Communion Evangelical Catholic Church in the city of Bend, Oregon.

The dedication of any new parish is cause for joy and celebration for any community of faith and for the Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest - this dedication was no exception.  

The conception of Holy Communion began when I was contacted by Father James Radloff who was interested in seeking clerical incardination into the Diocese of the Northwest and continuing his sacramental ministry in the Bend community.  Within a very short period of time a Pastoral Formation Team was created and the foundation for Holy Communion was in place ready to begin being built upon.  I must also say that the work of the PFT for Holy Communion will be serving as the template for bringing future parishes online.

My pastoral visit to Bend involved more than just the dedication of a new parish.  It was my obligation and responsibility to introduce the Evangelical Catholic Church to a community that had never heard of us before. While our Church continues to celebrate the historic sacramental and ecclesial roots of Catholicism, we have instituted a few pastoral reforms which needed to be explained and discussed.  I was deeply grateful for the respectful responses throughout our gathering on June 7th.

It was also my obligation and responsibility to begin establishing a trust relationship between myself and the people of Bend. Given the past history of the people of Bend with their bishops, it is important for me to earn their trust after years of past difficulties.  

Our Mass of Dedication on the Feast of Pentecost was a joyous and moving experience - with nearly 450 people in attendance

I believe that the Holy Spirit has been and shall remain strongly present with our new family in faith in Bend and I look forward to sharing that journey with them..

I wish to especially thank the Formation Committee for providing me with a most enjoyable and comfortable stay during my weekend.

I am looking forward to my next visit to Bend -  most likely via Amtrak.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Now Thank We All Our God

As I am preparing for my visit next weekend to the People of God in the community of Bend, Oregon for the formal introduction of the Evangelical Catholic Church via the establishment of Holy Communion Evangelical Catholic Church, the music and lyrics of the historic hymn "Now Thank We All Our God" keeps coming to my mind.

The creation of any new parish is a very serious and solemn commitment.  It is a tangible presence enabling the witnessing of faith and sacramental celebration of our continuing catholic journey.  It is also an oasis for those who are sacramentaly and spirituality parched from feeling separated from God's altar. For this opportunity to continue our celebration of faith, we indeed thank our God.

We must thank our God for the coming birth of Holy Communion Parish for it represents the unconditional love of God. I believe that our new parish shall be akin to a new flower in God's garden and our celebration of praise and thanksgiving shall give Him pleasure.

We know the genesis upon which our Parish has come into being.  We refuse to be spiritually or sacramentally entangled by past acts and we freely forgive the difficulties of the past. Our focus is to the future and our celebration of our catholic faith for we are, as Paul writes, "One Bread, One Body."

When celebrating Mass, I traditionally begin it by saying "We come together as God's family in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

I hope that all those in attendance with us on June 8th will respond with a loud Amen.

Please join me in thanking God for the gift of our faith, our community and for our new parish.

Thursday, May 29, 2014



an apology, as in defense or justification of a belief, idea, etc.
Literature. a work written as an explanation or justification of one's motives, convictions, or acts.

In recent weeks I have published several blogs to express my unconditional pastoral support to those who are considering becoming members of our planned new parish in Bend, Oregon.

My writings on the situation in Bend has been partly motivated by my concerns regarding the activities of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Baker, Oregon to undermine the hard work of many people to organize and open Holy Communion Evangelical Catholic Church. It is my personal ecclesiology that serves as to the foundation of my belief that a Bishop must unconditionally stand and protect the People of God from any and all unwarranted attacks against them.

After my most recent blog I received a few emails taking issue with its tone and use of metaphors to emphasis some of the salient points I was attempting to make.  To those who offered their constructive criticism, I was happy to write them back with thanks and express my regrets for any misgivings they had with the posting.

As a priest and bishop in the Evangelical Catholic Church, I am committed to openness and transparency.  I am also committed to accountability for my actions.  Because of these commitments, I wish to respectfully offer my "apologia" for my most recent blog which has stirred some controversy.  I do not believe it necessary for me to re-litigate the points I attempted to make in the post, for they are not the issues of concern.  I wish to focus on my usage of metaphors and analogies.

With regard to the "tone" of my writing style I believe that my promise to care, serve and protect the People of God must never be tepid or diluted - especially if I feel the People of God are being mislead or abused by a bully.  I was raised to stand up to bullies in all life situations.  When pastorally standing up to a bully, I believe that I must do so standing grounded in faith, commitment and resolve and sometimes it is necessary to employ blunt and honest language.  It was my hope my words would serve to holding up a mirror to Bishop Cary's statements for rational analysis and I believe that I was somewhat successful in doing so.  Over the course of nearly twenty years in public ministry, I have authored several pastoral letters covering a wide range of topics.  I would invite anyone to read these Letters to evaluate my tone of my writing style.  I hope that any who does this will experience that I attempt to write from my faith and heart.

With regard to my choice of the Kool-Aid metaphor, it was becoming obvious that as we move closer to the weekend of June 6th and the opening our mission parish, Bishop Cary had escalated his misapplications of ecclesiology.  As these escalations continued to grow, it became obvious that the ultimate threat which Bishop Cary could employ would be public excommunications of any person who chose to visit our mission parish.  I choose the absurdity of the Kool-Aid metaphor to emphasize the absurdity of threatening anyone with excommunication.  The idea that Bishop Cary would "spike" the altar wine in his parishes was not my intention.  Could I have applied a slightly less provocative metaphor and analogy?  In hindsight, I could have.  My goal was to use absurdity to counter absurdity in the same manner in which fire fighters who fight forest fires by employing suppression fires.

For those who felt that my application of metaphors and analogies were inappropriate, I extend my apologies and will endeavor to be more conscious of their use in future writings.

Thank you for your consideration.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What Next Bishop Cary, the Kool-Aid?

During the slow process of desegregation in Chicago, I saw remarkable responses from homeowners to their new and unwanted neighbors moving in next door to them.

Some homeowners built eight foot brick or cinder-block walls along their property lines.  Some had glass block windows installed on the “bad” side of their homes.  Guard dogs living in outdoor doghouses become popular.  My family and I had a neighbor who put up bars over their windows and had two new steel doors installed each with five deadbolts for each door.  A cloistered convent was less fortified from keeping the outside world out than our neighbors did for their house.

Over the past forty years, new owners of these properties have taken down these walls and have restored the homes and properties to their original states and the neighborhoods once again looks like their original selves.  

Over 60 years ago during the Allied stewardship of Germany after WWII, the Soviet controlled region of East Berlin became worried over the flow of doctors, lawyers, scientists and engineers fleeing East Berlin for the western sector.  To stop what was called back then as the “brain drain” from East Berlin, the communists erected the infamous Berlin Wall – not to keep people out, but to keep people in.

What has revived these images in my mind have been some phone calls from our new friends in Bend Oregon who are supporting the efforts being undertaken by the Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest – in union with the desires of the laity – to establish a new mission parish somewhere in the greater Bend area.  These phone calls have been to share with me the latest hyper-reactive responses by Bishop Liam Cary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bake Oregon regarding the new parish of the Evangelical Catholic Church moving into the neighborhood.

As the days draw closer to the weekend of June 6th, 2014, when I travel to visit Bend to discuss the new parish and to engage the good people in a Q&A about the Evangelical Catholic Church, Bishop Cary has begun erecting his own Berlin Wall to prevent anyone from his flock from leaving his jurisdiction to consider the jurisdiction of the Evangelical Catholic Church.

For those just joining in on this saga, let me take a moment to catch you up.

The Evangelical Catholic Church and its Diocese of the Northwest has accepted Father James Radloff, former priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bend, into our jurisdiction and is now a candidate for Clerical Incardination as a Priest within our Church.  The gruesome details for the reasons why Father Radloff has come to the Evangelical Catholic Church have been documented by Dan Morris-Young of the National Catholic Reporter.  I urge those who have not to read Mr. Morris-Young’s stories to consider doing so..

After Father Radloff’s resignation from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baker, a significant number of individuals and families who Father Radloff has cared for over the years as their pastor have indicated their wishes for a new parish to be established by the Evangelical Catholic Church in the Bend community.  While Bishop Cary was happy to be rid of Father Radloff, he is not happy with the increasing loss of people and their wallets crossing the street to become part of the new parish community.

Now that everyone is caught up………

In responding to the ECC coming to his neighborhood, Bishop Cary is trumpeting in various keys that the only “true” church in which one can gain eternal salvation is the Roman Catholic Church.  In addition to his trumpet solo, Bishop Cary plans to bring into the score the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law to outline the possible punishments for those may be tempted to cross the street to visit our parish.

So much for Cary’s fidelity to Vatican II.

Bishop Cary’s actions reminds me of the Stephen King mystery, “The Dome.”  As Cary drops his ecclesial dome over the Diocese of Baker does he sincerely believe this will bring an end to his paranoia over having a some of his people cross the street to the Evangelical Catholic Church?  Left unchecked, any form of paranoia or neurosis can result in more pronounced unhealthy behaviors - especially if nobody on Cary’s staff has the backbone to sit him down and talk some sense into him.  I am prepared to welcome Bishop Cary for a one-on-one visit during my visit to Bend.  Maybe he and I can work through his anger and fears about the Evangelical Catholic Church.  I respectfully want to say to Bishop Cary, "We are not your enemy.  Why choose to be ours?"

For the umpteenth time, the Evangelical Catholic Church is prohibited by policy and tradition from stealing anyone from their houses of worship. We believe that both jurisdictions can co-exist without any difficulties. Yet Cary is fortifying his boundaries in preparation for an all out invasion by an Army of Satan.  Unless he is offered some sound pastoral advice, what else might Bishop Cary considering doing?   The time has now come for this independently-produced drama to come to an end before it brings more scandal to the Roman Catholic Episcopacy. 

My only warning would be to all of the good members of the many Roman Catholic parishes of the Diocese of Baker is this:  If you see deliveries trucks bringing Kool-Aid to your parish, avoid the Chalice at the next Mass.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Message to the People of Bend Oregon

Evangelical Catholic 
Diocese  of the Northwest
Post Office Box 170336   Chicago Illinois 60617-0336
Office:  773-721-5383     Fax:  773-721-2581   

Office of the Bishop

May 20, 2014

To the Community of Bend Oregon:

At the risk of getting entangled in a “Letter War” with my brother Bishop from the Diocese of Baker, I feel it necessary to request your consideration to read and reflect upon the words I wish to share with you.  I promise that this will not be written with threats or bombast, but rather in the spirit of an extended hand of a new friend moving into your neighborhood.

I am looking forward to my upcoming visit to Bend during the weekend of June 6th to meet all those who are considering continuing their Catholic journey in faith with the proposed Holy Communion Evangelical Catholic Church and to celebrate Mass on Sunday June 8th for those who wish to attend.

In most cases whenever the Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest has opened a new mission parish, the local Roman Catholic Chancery and Bishop pay no attention to such an event.  However the creation of Holy Communion Evangelical Catholic Church, akin to the creation of Holy Name of Jesus Evangelical Catholic Church in Ashippun Wisconsin, has drawn the ire of the local Roman Chancery and Bishop because the pastors of these parishes were former priests of the local Roman dioceses and had been specifically marginalized and abused by their superiors before being forced into their resignations.  In both of these cases, Father David Verhasselt and Father James Radloff enjoyed the confidence and respect of the laity whom they had served with distinction and when each chose to continue their vocations to the priesthood within the Evangelical Catholic Church – many of the laity came with them – much to the anger of the local Roman officials.

The creation of Holy Communion Evangelical Catholic Church with Father James Radloff has angered and upset my episcopal brother, Liam Cary.  He is angry and upset over the fact that he might lose some of the “sheep of his flock” to the Evangelical Catholic Church.  I can also state that he and his Chancery are even more livid over the loss of revenue from those who will no longer attend local RC parishes. Thus, in order to keep his sheep penned in and their wallets safe, Bishop Cary has had letters prepared for him larded with ecclesial bombast from centuries past to scare people for visiting or attending Holy Communion.

Bishop Cary has essentially threatened anyone who chooses to attend Holy Communion with eternal damnation via his remarks that the promise of the Kingdom of God in Heaven is reserved for those “in communion” with the Bishop of Rome.  I suspect that in the coming days, Bishop Cary’s next threat will be of excommunication against anyone who visits or attends Mass at Holy Communion.

Bishop Cary’s threats of eternal damnation are the words of a very angry man.  His application of ecclesiology in this case is in error with the ecclesiology of the post Vatican II Roman Catholic Church.

Bishop Cary’s action reminds me of the thought process and justification used by the man in Cleveland who held three young women prisoners in his home for a decade.   Despite the hell he forced these women to endure, he kept telling them that they could not exist outside of his “care” for them.

As the Diocese of the Northwest and Holy Communion Evangelical Catholic Church begins its welcoming process, I want to state for the record several key points before any further fear mongering takes place.

·          We unconditionally welcome anyone who is interested in learning about how they can continue their Catholic journey in faith with us..  No symbolic guns will be used to force anyone to visit us or to prevent anyone from NOT walking through our doors.
·          The Evangelical Catholic Church does not engage in any form of pew stealing.  If you are a happy member of the Church to which you belong, we guarantee our respect for your choice.
·          Our presence in the community of Bend is not intended to disrupt or destroy the Roman Catholic presence in Oregon.  We are coming here to minister to those who have been pastorally or sacramentally orphaned and wish to belong to a catholic community that will welcome and respect them.

The advent of the missionary work of the Evangelical Catholic Church in the community of Bend is not, as some would have you believe, the work of the devil looking to steal souls from the Kingdom of God in Heaven.

There is no reason why two difference Catholic jurisdictions cannot coexist in Bend with respect for one another.

I wish to conclude with an apology for the threats being levied against the good people of Bend by my colleague Bishop Cary.  I would ask that all would join me in lifting Liam Cary in prayer and ask God to ease him of his anger and internal turmoil and to restore him as a spiritually healthy and emotionally focused priest at the altar of God.

And if I may – please keep Father Radloff and me in your prayers also.

I look forward to seeing you all in the coming weeks.

I am,Respectfully Yours in Christ,

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

“A Welcoming Community of Faith
Rooted in the Catholic Tradition”

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Spiritual Fear Mongering of Bishop Liam Cary of the Diocese of Baker

For those who have been following the growth and development of the Evangelical Catholic Church are aware that Father James Radloff has become our most recent candidate for Clerical Incardination into our Church and its Diocese of the Northwest.  Jim Radloff comes to us via the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baker in Oregon after a prolonged period of episcopal marginalization by the Bishop of Baker, Bishop Liam Cary. The accounts of Jim's trials have been aptly reported by Dan Morris-Young of the National Catholic Reporter.  One can read the Mr. Morris-Young's series of stories of Father Radloff's experiences by visiting 

I would like to state for the record that when Fr. Radloff submitted his April 22, 2104 letter of resignation from the presbyterate of the Roman jurisdiction, he did so in accordance with their Code of Canon Law.  In that same letter, Jim also ended his membership within the Roman jurisdiction and was announced that he was becoming a member of the Evangelical Catholic Church and would be making application for Clerical Incardination. Fr. Radloff executed his resignation with the highest of professional standards.

Jim, who is a native of Chicago, has indicated to me his desire to continue his sacramental ministry within the central region of Oregon and I am happy to support this for the primary reason that an overwhelming number of disenfranchised and marginalized Catholics from that region have petition me for permission to establish a new parish.  Given the groundswell of support by the laity of the community of Bend Oregon, I have approved plans for the laity to begin the groundwork for the establishment of the Evangelical Catholic Church of the Holy Communion which I hope to see opened sometime this year.

I would like to take a moment to interject one of the policies of the Evangelical Catholic Church.  Our Catholic jurisdiction shall not, in any way shape or form, attempt to engage in "pew stealing" - that is the overt attempt to steal members from another church to become members of our parishes.  We have no desire to covet anyone who is perfectly happy in their community of faith.

In 2012 our Church was blessed when Father David Verhasselt chose to apply for Clerical Incardination with us.  Father David came to us via the Roman jurisdiction after suffering insults and injustices from the Archbishop of Milwaukee, Jerome Listecki.  Father David and a large group of the laity created Holy Name of Jesus Evangelical Catholic Church in the town of Ashippun Wisconsin that is growing monthly.

At the time of the creation of Holy Name of Jesus parish, we experienced the full wrath and furry of Archbishop Listecki and the Chancery of Milwaukee.  Abp. Listecki threatened blanket Excommunications to any who attended Mass at HNJ and archdiocesan "observers" attended the parish's first Confirmation Mass and attempted to take videos and pictures of the Mass.

When one examines the reactions of Archbishop Listecki and his Chancery Staff over the creation of Holy Name of Jesus Evangelical Catholic Church - it all came down to one thing and one thing only.  Their loss of laity and their wallets.  Had there been no interests by the laity in the Ashippun area in Holy Name of Jesus, Archbishop Listecki and his Chancery Staff would not have given the mission a second thought.

Now it is time for Bishop Liam Cary and his Chancery Staff to follow the example of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to begin their attempts at spiritual fear mongering of those who have pledged their commitment to
Holy Communion Evangelical Catholic Church in Bend Oregon.

We all knew that this was coming.

Today I had forward to me a "pastoral letter" from Bishop Cary which was to be read at parishes in which Father Radloff had been associated with.during his 20 year tenure as a priest of the Diocese of Baker.

Bishop Cary's letter begin with, "With this letter I wish to clarify some essential points of Catholic identity in light of recent events here in Central Oregon."  Cary also goes on to say that:

"At first hearing his (Jesus) teachings can be hard to take.  When he spoke of his intention to give his Body as the Bread of life, many of his disciples reacted sharply:  This is hard saying; who can listen to it?  And many of them drew back and no longer walked with him."  'Will you also go away?' a disappointed Jesus asked his apostles. St. Peter voiced the response of the Church's faith from that day to this. 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.'

Peter's question confronts every Catholic who comes under pressure to go away and to depart from communion with the Catholic Church.  If we too cease to walk with him in His Church on account of on account of one or another 'hard saying' of his, where else will be go to find Him who has promised to remain with His church forever?  When we break communion with Peter and his apostles, what we are saying to the Jesus who entrusted his words and his sacraments to their care?  Has his promise to be with His church to the end of the world would cease to be true?

After reading Bishop Cary's "letter" I was forced to look at my calendar to make sure that we are not living in the 12th century.

To understand Cary's application of ecclesiology within his letter, one has to understand two bedrock philosophies held by the Roman jurisdiction.

1.  Rome continues with their historic premise that one's personal connection with Christ Resurrected and one's personal salvation can only be acquired within the scope of the Roman Catholic Church.  Cary is asserting that anyone from any faith community outside of the 'graces' of Rome of is spirituality and sacramentally ineligible for welcoming into the Kingdom of God.

2.  Rome views all who have been members of the Roman jurisdiction as members for life.  I refer that this practice as the "Taiwan Principle."  China has historically refused to recognize the independence of the island of Taiwan.  It continues to view the land and its peoples as part of China.  Rome refuses to acknowledge the fact that people do chose to leave the Roman jurisdiction for other destinations and refers to them a dissidents and/or heretics.

Just like Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Ashippun, it is most likely that Holy Communion Evangelical Catholic Church will have a sound and solid number of members for its birth.  What is not said in the Cary letter or overtly implied is that fact that every person who chooses to attend Holy Communion Evangelical Catholic Church will not only be bring the gift of the presence, but also their wallets - which is ultimately the basis underlying the Cary's fear mongering letter.

It is very difficult for anyone to offer a response to Cary's letter based of faith, love and hope.  But I shall make a sincere attempt:.

1.  The Evangelical Catholic Church, which is a community of faith rooted in the Catholic tradition, knows and celebrates "to whom" we continue to remained turned towards.  It is the words and unconditional love of the Resurrected Christ that we continue to embrace along with His Sacraments which continues to deepen our lives and love with Him. We believe that the modest pastoral and sacramental reforms we have been called to institute shall only deepen our relationship with Christ. Christ is truly present in each and every body of faith which commits itself to Him.

2.  Luke 9:46-49.  I invite you to read it.

I wish to extend my apologies to those parishes in which this letter was ordered to be read, for not only does it insult the intelligence of those parishioners, but it diminishes the professionalism of the office Bishop Cary holds. Had Bishop Cary simply sent a letter to these parishes stating that he "values the individual gifts and presence of his laity and hopes not to lose any of them," neither I or any other professional cleric could argue with such a statement.

I have been invited to visiting the community of Bend Oregon next month to introduce myself and to celebrate Mass of June 8th.  I realize that between now and my upcoming visit, we will continue to see Bishop Cary and his Chancery make attempts to abort the establishment of Holy Communion Evangelical Catholic Church.

Each of us involved are personally and spiritually prepared.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Placing Francis Cardinal George in God's Hands

This evening our local news stations reported that Francis Cardinal George, Roman Catholic Archbishop for Chicago, has once again begun aggressive chemotherapy for a return of cancer.

While His Eminence and I, are members of two of the various Catholic jurisdictions, he and I are both brother priests and sons of the same Father. Although he and I have not agreed on some pastoral and sacramental issues, I am called by faith and fraternity to hold him in prayer and to ask God to give him, along with all who struggle from life-threatening illness, comfort, hope and peace.

I invite all persons of good will to place His Eminence in God's hands.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Discipline of the Faithful v. Disciplining the Faithful

A long time ago we here at the office learned how important it is to check our in-boxes daily for emails, for we receive many.  A significant amount of email we receive, like most of us, tends to come under the category of spam.

Towards the end of January 2014 the office took note of a number of emails coming to us with written in the subject line, “Shameful Behavior,” “Meanness,” “Discipline Yourselves,” and several others with headings that one should not quote in the public forum.

The common objective of these emails was to take the Evangelical Catholic Church and our Bishops to task for our advocating that any gender common couples seeking marriage “should be disciplined like a child.”

After reviewing about 30 of these emails, I choose seven of the most angry and emotional emails and replied to them asking why the Evangelical Catholic Church was receiving such emails.  From the four who responded, I leaned that their indignation had been ignited by recent comments of Bishop Thomas Paprocki, Roman Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of Springfield Illinois, during a recent radio interview defending his obsession and opposition to equal rights for LGTB citizens.

Bishop Paprocki, one may remember, gained national notoriety in 2013 when he conducted an exorcism service on the day the Illinois Marriage Equality Bill was signed into law.  In attempting to justify his actions, Bishop Paprocki said he wasn’t being hateful — he was performing a “loving” act of discipline, like a parent correcting a child. And he has reiterated his belief same-sex marriage is “the work of the devil.”

Since the signing of the Marriage Equality Bill, Bishop Paprocki has remained obsessed in his opposition to Marriage Equality.  In a recent video interview with LifeSite News, Bishop Paprocki stated that “Any good parent will tell you that sometimes you have to discipline your children,” and also adding that "Sometimes you have to say ‘no,’" and "Sometimes you even have to punish.”

In his concluding remarks on LifeSite, Bishop Paprocki said “When a parent does those things, they’re not being hateful towards their children; they’re actually being very loving by correcting them and showing them the right way to do things.”

Upon realizing the genesis of the angry emails sent to us, our office responded with a clarifying disclaimer stating that the words and pastoral positions of Bishop Paprocki on marriage equality does not reflect the ecclesiology and pastoral theology of the Evangelical Catholic Church.

I fully understand the hurt expressed in these emails sent to the Evangelical Catholic Church.  I understand the fact that these are good people who are hurting as a result of their systematic marginalization by their Catholic jurisdiction and have incorrectly assumed that all Catholic jurisdictions shares Bishop Paprocki’s words, actions and attitudes tells me that much works needs to continue in order to education the general public of the fact that there does exist more than ONE Catholic jurisdiction in the world.

Let me emphasize my recognition and compliments to Bishop Paprocki for being a loyal member and bishop to the Catholic Church of Rome.  There is in my mind no doubt that Thomas
Paprocki embraces and supports the theological and ecclesial disciplines of his Catholic jurisdiction.

Today most of the Catholic Jurisdiction shares common views on many theological and ecclesial matters.  With regards to matters of equal rights and human rights, the Catholic Church of Rome and the Evangelical Catholic Church embraces opposing secular and theological views.  I am also prepared to state that when it comes to “disciplining” the laity which God has called us to serve, the views expressed by my brother Thomas and the pastoral theology of the Evangelical Catholic Church could not be more diverse.

I believe that the common liturgical, sacramental, ecclesial, spiritual and theological “disciplines” shared and celebrated by the various Catholic jurisdictions are those things which draw us together as communities of faith to deepen our intimacy and love of and with God.  These disciplines should appeal to the heart and spirituality of people and invite them unconditionally to become part of a jurisdiction and not be viewed as flypaper in disguise. 

Scripture continues to teach us that in the calling of the Twelve, Jesus extends to His chosen the simple, yet profound invitation to “Come, follow me.”  Jesus made his invitation unconditional and without putting anyone under any form of duress. 

The words and model of Church being used by my brother Thomas are top heavy with duress and absolutism – a model the theocratic rule to which all persons (Catholic or not) must submit.

Thomas’ words and model of Church being expressed reminds me of a scene from the movie “Roots,” in which the slave Kunta Kinke is being whipped because of his refusal to accept his slave name of Toby.  Jesus invites us to follow him based on unconditional love, not via submission from torture. 

I have always used the image of Catholicism as a tree with many branches sharing the same trunk and roots.  I also believe that each of the Catholic jurisdictions much equally share in the many historic episodes of torture and pain inflicted upon those deemed in need of “discipline” by Holy Mother Church.  The blood of so many from ages past which continues to stains our hands most not be further stained by the emotional and spiritual blood of the marginalized of those of this generation.

While I must acknowledge Bishop Paprocki’s rights to advocate his strongest objections to marriage equality or any other secular matter which he feels threatens the Roman position of the Sacrament of Marriage, such as the secular right to divorce or the right to secure a prescription for birth control.  Maybe these are demographics which Thomas cannot financially afford to upset.

For myself, I simply wish to not have my Catholic jurisdiction clubbed over the head because of Thomas’ obsession.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

TN State Senator Stacey Campfield: Reflections by the Uneducated

A few days ago TN State Senator Stacey Campfield engaged in some personal reflections which proves to me that the 1st Amendment providing free speech was a brilliant concept of the Founders - even when it causes society to shake their heads in disbelief.

Senator Campfield has been sharing the genesis of the AIDS virus:

"Most people realize that AIDS comes from the homosexual community - it was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men.  It was with a airline pilot, I recall.

It is my understanding that is it virtually impossible contract AIDS through heterosexual sex."

The power of the uneducated. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Remembering Archbishop Mark Steven Shirilau

After all these years I have come to learn that phones calls between midnight and 6:00 AM most often are bad news - and in the middle of the night on January 12th, 2014 proved to be no different.

I don't even remember who the caller was.  All I remember hearing the words that "Mark died in Italy this morning."

Since that morning and up to the moment I've begun to write this (January 2 2014) I have had great difficulties digesting the fact that Mark Shirilau is gone at the age of only 58 from heart failure resulting from pneumonia.

Archbishop Mark Steven Shirilau was the founder and first Archbishop for the Ecumenical Catholic Church and he and Bishop Robert W. Martin were to play a significant role in encouraging me to re-embrace my vocation to the priesthood after my hellish experience as a candidate for the Roman Catholic Priesthood.

In 1995 the Holy Spirit arranged for a convergence between myself with the Ecumenical Catholic Church.  I was invited to attend one of their priesthood ordinations in Springfield Illinois and somehow Bishop Martin learned of my formational past and decided to make time to visit with me to discuss my considering to continue my vocation within the Ecumenical Catholic Church.  Despite my many gracious "no thanks" to Bishop Martin, I left Springfield back on the "formational hook" and within a few weeks accepted Bishop Martin's invitation to become a priest within the Ecumenical Catholic Church.

Shortly after my acceptance, Bishop Martin told me that I would be receiving a phone call from "the Archbishop."  After my Roman Catholic formation experiences, the idea of a chat with "The Archbishop" didn't especially impress me.  Nevertheless one night I was hosting a small party of friends and had enjoyed martinis, complimented with some fine wine with dinner and had just settled back with my guests and was having a B&B when the the phone rang.  After saying hello, the voice on the other end of the phone said, "Hi, this is Archbishop Shirilau."  I though it was one of my friends calling and joking, so I responded by saying, "and I'm the Duke of Windsor" and hung up.  Within the hour Bishop Martin phoned me to say that the Archbishop was trying to phone and was going to call back.  Marty's advice to me was "when the phone rings and the voice says this is the Archbishop - please give him the benefit of the doubt."

Mark called back and I followed Marty's advice and was ultimately ordained to the priesthood on May 25th, 1996 in Chicago.

Ironically my canonical relationship with Mark and the Ecumenical was destined to be brief.

The Ecumenical Catholic Church, which is part of the great Autocephalous Catholic Movement, became home and a refuge for many who had become pastorally and sacramentaly orphaned by the Roman Catholic Church.  Mark come to the ECC via the Episcopal and Lutheran Churches, whereas myself and a few other came to the ECC directly via the Roman Catholic Church.  As much as Mark loved us "Catholics," he was wise enough to recognize a possible conflict between our ecclesiology and the more Protestant ecclesiology of the ECC and very much wanted to avoid it.  In short, Mark suggested and with his blessings encouraged us to form a community in which our ecclesiology and sacramentology could be more fully celebrated and worked with us to create the Evangelical Catholic Church in July of 1997.

In many ways Mark Shirilau and Marty Martin were instruments of the Holy Spirit to help the pastorally orphaned to find new avenues to reconnect with God.  In my nearly 20 years of ministry, I am just now coming to a fuller understand of how the Holy Spirit worked through Mark and how Mark, very much akin to the willingness of our Blessed Mother - accepted God's task and vocation on behalf of a greater good.

It is because Mark gave of himself unconditionally to God for the greater good for the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth that I was saddened to see how Mark was used by so many others to obtain valid ordinations to the priesthood and consecrations to the episcopacy.  Mark was willing to give anyone who petitioned for ordination a chance.  It was tragic to see over the years to numbers of those who Mark ordained only to turn around and stab him in the back and run out the back door. 

Over the past 15 years or so it was interesting to see how both Mark and I evolved.  I believe that it would be fair to say that Mark's ecclesiology and sacramentology was significantly left of center and that mine was significantly right of center.  In recent years both Mark and I had significantly moved into the center ecclesial and sacramental lane. Both Mark and I had come to the conclusion that the wider Autocephalous Catholic Movement in the United States was in a "hot mess" and needed reform and professionalism.

In 2013, the Evangelical Catholic Church and I inherited stewardship of the Saint John the Evangelist Seminary and I invited Mark and the Ecumenical Catholic Church to make the Seminary a consortium project and Mark immediately agreed.  Mark and I, along with Bishop Dermot Rodgers of the Communion of Independent Catholic Churches believed that this program of academic formation would help correct many of the problems which has plagued the Autocephalous Catholic Movement.  And I believe that in time we will succeed in doing so.

Last year Mark and I worked on how our two jurisdictions could work more closely together and we agreed on a Concordat of Recognition between our two jurisdictions.  The Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest and I elected to nominate Mark to received the Saint Joseph the Worker Award at the 2013 Bishop's Dinner and Awards Ceremony this past November.  Sadly Mark could not attend due to the death of his father Ken in October.  Mark suggested that since we would be all be gathered for a combined Retreat and Conference in May of 2014, he would sign the Concordat at that time. He further suggested that I present him with his Award at that time, so there would be a keepsake picture of us together with the Award.  I said fine, but went ahead and mailed him his award in December.  When he got it he phoned and was very emotional with gratitude.  I'm glad that I didn't wait until May of 2014.

Mark and I spend considerable time together in Chicago this past September and laid the framework for working together in the future.  Our time together made us both feel like young and vigorous newly ordained priests.

Had it not been for Mark Shirilau, Marty Martin and the Ecumenical Catholic Church - I would have never been ordained.

The best way for me to honor Mark's trust in me so many years ago is to simply continue to serving the People of God and to continue to work for the building of His kingdom on earth.

To learn more about the life of Mark Shirilau, please visit his memorial.