As I mentioned in an earlier thread, my parish priest was accused recently of molesting someone 32 years ago. He vehemently denies the accusation. As is now the practice at least in my Diocese, Fr Rensing was removed as pastor until the investigation is complete. Rather than the priest that showed up this weekend tell us why Fr Rensing was not there, he just said he was unavailable. Then, this past Monday, we found out through the media that he had been removed and why. This info should have come from the visiting priest. A meeting was scheduled this evening (Wednesday) in which we thought the bishop would be present. Instead, he sent his Vicar General (read patsy).
The Church was PACKED, more people there for this event than for a Christmas Mass. It turns out most don't believe the accusation. ALL were insulted that Bishop didn't come. I've included a copy of an email I sent to the Bishops email address. Our Bishop is Wilton Gregory, who is also President of the United States Council of Cathlic Bishops.
The more I hear about the case the more I don't buy this guys story, he didn't make the accusation until he was indicted for molesting his children. So far no one else has stepped forward with similar accusations. Is it possible he did it, sure, molestors look like nice guys most of the time, I have my doubts though so reserve judgement. I'm afraid the church Review Board will decide this case on dollars and cents rather than facts.
Are you aware of how hurt and insulted the faithful at Our Lady Of Lourdes Catholic Church in Sparta Illinois were when you did not make an appearance at the meeting this evening concerning the removal of Fr. William Rensing? Your place was with the faithful that have been entrusted to you. It was also our original understanding that you would be there.
God has given you a sacred trust as Bishop, that of shepherding his church, which is at Belleville. Jesus' commission to Peter in John 21 also applies to you, He said, "Feed my sheep...feed my lambs...feed my sheep." The sheep needed to be fed this evening.
Canon 369 states that we, as members of the diocese, are entrusted for pastoral care to you, our bishop, and that we are to adhere to you as our pastor as part of and in witness of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Christ being truly present and active.
Canon 383 states that in the exercise of his pastoral office, a diocesan bishop is to show that he is concerned with all the Christian faithful. I gather from these two canons and from my understanding of the church that your primary role as Bishop is being pastor to the faithful. We, the faithful in Sparta, needed you and you weren't there for us. I can't imagine anything would have been more pressing with the exception of a death in your family or a call to Rome. Not even your duties as President of the USCCB outweighs your responsibility to us, given to you in Christ.
Having our local pastor torn away from us, and under such circumstances, we needed our bishop this evening, not the Vicar General. Can't you imagine the pain we feel at having our priest, who is well respected and loved, taken from us. We needed our bishop, our pastor present this evening to console us, and inform us, but our pastor failed to show up. No reasonable explanation was offered as to why you were not available.
We almost get the sense that you were avoiding a possible confrontation, or that you were afraid to be there for some reason.
Msgr Margasan was uninformed or uninformative as to the processes of the review committee, which is completely inexcusable. The method in which the Parish was informed was just plain wrong. There was no reason this could not have been announced at weekend mass. Msgr Margasan mentioned that he had wanted to inform the parishioners by mail, but couldn't come up with a mailing list. I find this unbelievable as the Diocese always seems to have our mailing addresses when it's time for the Diocesan Service Appeal, or some other appeal for money.
I think the consensus of the parish is that those appeals will, for quite some time, fall on deaf ears. Our money will be better spent hiring an attorney for Fr Rensing, if he wishes, to defend himself against these accusations in civil court. I will continue to support my local parish, but I will be hard pressed to financially support the diocese when our bishop can't take time from his busy schedule to administer his most important function and most sacred duty as pastor to the sheep.
Bishop Gregory, you at very least owe an explanation as to why you failed to be in Sparta this evening. I suspect you also owe us an apology. No doubt we are now owed a pastoral visit.
My faith in Christ is not shaken, my faith in the Church is not shaken, but my faith that you hold His people in your heart is severely shaken by your lack of consideration or interest or Christian love this evening.
I appreciate this process that the Church must go through, protecting children is paramount. Protecting priests against false accusations is also important. Would you have applied the Zero Tolerance Policy in the case of the accusation against Cardinal Bernadin? It later proved to be false. At any rate, knowing Fr Rensing 17 years, I have serious doubts as to the validity of this one accusation.
Contemporaries of the gentleman making the accusation, who were of the same age and in the same parish, were not questioned or interviewed at all by review board? Why?
That being said, the church must go through this review process. I hope the process is driven at finding the truth, not at saving the Diocese money. If Fr Rensing is guilty of this then it's good and right that he not be allowed to act as priest, but if he's not guilty, can his reputation now be restored?
Bishop Gregory, do the right thing, come to Sparta and show us that you are our pastor. Know that I pray for you, for Fr Rensing, and the gentelman making the accusation.
Yours most sincerely in Christ Jesus,
Michael A. Cavalier