Posts Tagged ‘Comments and Questions’


Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

It is that wonderful time of the year again when I can find some time to get away, rest and relax. This year, for the first time in my episcopal ministry, I will be taking the whole month of July. There is nothing to be done, places to visit, just pure rest and relaxation. The pastor of the parish where I am visiting is alone so I will be helping in his parish on Sundays starting a week from today and since he takes two weeks himself each year in the middle of July but has had the custom of returning for the three week-end Masses, thereby interrupting his time away, I will cover for him the week-end of July 16/17 giving him for the first time two weeks away. While I like to keep the location in the US where I am vacationing a secret, I can tell you that under cloudless blue skies yesterday the high reached a whopping 77 degrees and the low last night, my first here, was 57, necessitating a blanket (my hosts had to explain to me what a”blanket” is!). The diocese is never out of my thoughts and you are never out of my prayers.

A month ago I wrote a letter which was distributed in the parishes about the diocese’s history since 1991 in dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct against minors, our process and its procedures. The letter has been very well received and the feedback overwhelmingly positive. However, two people very respectfully asked for a clarification of the statement that we have not used Annual Pastoral Appeal monies to pay the costs of dealing with these sad issues. I reaffirm that the statement is correct but it does raise the question as to whence do the monies come if not from the people. At no time did I ever mean to imply that monies used for this purpose comes from anywhere other than the parishes and, therefore, the people. Every parish and institution in the diocese is “taxed” or “assessed” for certain things which are not directly related to pastoral programs which the APA funds. For example, parishes and schools pay a significant amount each year for the health and welfare costs of their employees, likewise for unemployment compensation insurance and pension fund contributions. All of that is deducted mainly from offertory contributions. A fourth and final category of parish and parishioner support is for “Property and Liability Insurance.” We maintain a reserve here to cover some deductibles and catastrophic losses due to hurricanes and storm damage, legal claims and settlements for things like “slip and falls”, fires, etc. We have dipped occasionally and as needed into this reserve to pay what we identified as the costs associated with the diocese’s history of settling with victims in the hope of giving them some sense of pastoral care and solicitude for the immense harm done to them. Anticipating the next question which likely is, “well, has the diocese raised its tax against the parishes to build up this reserve” and the answer is in the negative. From time to time our Property and Liability Insurer, Catholic Mutual, has raised premiums against the parishes and institutions because either the property is seen to have increased in value or risk but this has nothing to do with sexual misconduct claims and payments. So, yes, parishes and parishioners as well as high schools and other diocesan institutions have been the ultimate source of these funds but that fact has not impacted the assessment parishes have been paying because we have had the funds in reserve. I hope this is helpful.

So, the fish are calling and I will sign off, not to be heard from again until sometime in early August. May the Lord spare us storms this hurricane season and may each reader also have an opportunity at some rest and relaxation from the normal. God Bless.




Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Many things on my mind today and the week just ended has been one of the most physically taxing in a long time since the normal Advent and pre-Christmas schedule was interrupted by a trip to Baltimore for a meeting at Catholic Relief Services. So, here goes,

Bishop John Noonan was installed as fifth bishop of Orlando on Thursday at the Shrine Basilica of Mary, Queen of the Universe. A congregation in excess of 2,500 warmly welcomed their new shepherd and in his homily, the new shepherd demonstrated the warmth of his love and fondness for his new diocese. The ceremony was quite lovely and lasted less than 105 minutes which is a miracle in itself. Bishop Noonan did a wonderful thing at the end of Mass when in speaking of Advent as the season of hope, he invited all the seminarians present to come forward as witnesses to hope which the faithful should have for their Church. The bishop has spent almost seventeen of his twenty-seven years in the priesthood working in seminary formation at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, as Dean of Men and then for a good number of years as President-Rector. About eighty seminarians came forth to a standing and prolonged ovation from the people at the Shrine and proudly I could identify about twenty-five as being from our diocese.

Last night saw the annual Christmas dinner for our seminarians and their families (about 190 persons), their pastors and priest friends, and myself. Following Mass in the St. James Chapel we proceeded to Archbishop Favalora Hall where we had dinner and bade farewell with great gratitude to Father Leonard Plazewski who has held the position of Vocation Director of this diocese for twelve and a half years. An earlier post here indicated the transition and who his replacements would be in that very important position within the diocese. The seminarians are fond of Father Len and so the leave-taking was not that easy for him or for many but the Church of St. Petersburg owes him a debt of thanks for his hard work over the years recruiting and assisting seminarians through to priesthood. It is always wonderful to see our men and their families in a relaxed atmosphere and to begin to acknowledge the coming of Christmas with their return to their homes.

Fr. Len Plazewski

Father Len Plazewski saying his good-by and thanks to those present for the annual Christmas dinner for our seminarians and their families. (Photo courtesy of A. Padilla, seminarian)

The Bethany Center is fast becoming my second home as I seem to be spending many nights there lately. Prior to last night, I held the third of my overnights with our priests, this time being the international priests (born and formed in other countries like Poland, India, African nations, the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, and Central and South America). Our lengthy conversations about their experiences in coming to minister in the United States and in this diocese were both illuminating and helpful to me. They are a great and generous group of men who understand the challenges of language, culture, accent, etc. and who wish nothing more than to be accepted by me, by you, and by their brother priests as no longer a category (e.g. “international priests”) but just as priests of the diocese.

I have had only one angry over-the-top “comment” to a blog entry here which focused on the lack of a “corpus” (figure of Christ) on the large crucifix at Holy Family Catholic Church and made much of the stained glass window of the “Risen Christ” in the rear of the sanctuary. I regret ruining this readers day then and now as I failed to mention that the wood-carved body of Christ did not arrive on time to be installed on the cross and is due in a few weeks and as for the “stained-glass window”, it was in the church since its first dedication and was a sine qua non for the older parishioners in the renovation. When the figure of Jesus arrives and is placed, I will put a picture here in the profound hope that the reader will calm down but I would bet not. He was from Michigan, anyway, not the parish or the diocese.

This evening a number of the staff of our Pastoral Center gathered at Pinellas Hope to prepare, serve and feed the 262 residents on this cold Florida night. Working without a raise for the last two years, this group paid for the food, prepared it, and served it. I lent them my presence and not my culinary expertise of which I have none.

Pastoral Center staff serving one line at Pinellas Hope on December 19, 2010

Father Bob Morris and his mom also helped out

When the new year begins, forty bishops from the East Coast (the Wilmington diocese down to Miami) will gather for their annual retreat from the 3-7 of January at the Bethany Center. Several Cardinals, four archbishops and the rest bishops will spend their first visit to Bethany being led in our prayer and reflection by Bishop Jaime Soto who is the bishop of Sacramento, California. They are all looking forward to coming back to the Diocese of St. Petersburg after having spent a week here this past summer, hoping for warm weather (a coin toss in early January as we locals know), and ready to enjoy our hospitality and the beauty and comfort of Bethany. So I still have some blogs left in me right up to and including the Feast of the Holy Family a week from today but after that – SILENCE until the 7th of January.

That just about empties the file I have in my mind. Enjoy this final week of hope and expectation.



Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Besides being somewhat in love with alliteration, the title of this post is somewhat tricky. Does it means where one can bog down in the blogs which this bishop follows closely and enjoys immensely or does it mean that I am reviewing my work of the last three years searching for the place where I “bogged” down on an issue or a topic. Actually, it is the former and is in response to perhaps the most often asked question which I receive on my blog. Everyday, without fail, I look at the following three blogs:

Screen shot of Whispers in the Loggia

Whispers in the Loggia

Rocco Palmo, Author of Whispers in the Loggia

Rocco Palmo, Author of Whispers in the Loggia

As I have often pointed out, the mother of all ecclesial blogs and the inspiration for my beginning this effort three years ago is called Whispers in the Loggia. Written by Philadelphian Rocco Palmo, this blog covers the Church incredibly well and very fairly. I suspect and suggest it is clear that the author loves his Church, while realistically understanding that wholeness is an eschatological reality and between here and there, the Church sometimes has aspects that are neither tidy nor perfect. Whispers it seems to me does not get polemical but can sometimes be absolutely poetical in its reflections on saints of today and yesterday, historical moments in the Church’s life and a good spin on what popes, conferences of bishops and individual bishops and others are saying. I used to say that one could be a very learned person on many things if one just took the time to read (in its old format no longer extant) the Wall Street Journal’s three front page articles, the right, left and center stories which would go on for pages illuminating in great detail life on this planet in its various manifestations. In the world of our Church, I think Whispers serves the same purpose – it is at once illuminating, informative, and fair. I suppose it does not hurt that when it comes to appointments of bishops, if that is one’s interest, the author of this blog is often ahead of the curve  by a few hours. Anyway, it was this blog bog that moved me to begin to write this current effort and if you have not acquainted yourself with it, I suggest you try it week after next during the Fall meeting of the nation’s bishops. I will be reading to see if other than elections to Conference office, Rocco Palmo finds many other reasons for our meeting this year. Try it, I think you will like it.

Screen shot of Truth in Love

Truth in Love, Bishop Paul D. Etienne's blog

Most Rev. Paul Etienne, Bishop of Cheyenne

Most Rev. Paul Etienne, Bishop of Cheyenne

In a classic case of the student outshining his mentor, my dear friend Bishop Paul D. Etienne is a faithful blogger since his ordination to the episcopacy last December 9, 2009. I wish I could write so well about things spiritual as this young bishop does. While one has to be patient with more than an occasional picture of a fish hanging at the end of a line, there is good fishing for sound spiritual theology in Bishop Etienne’s reflections, often on the daily readings, saints, and life in the vast Wyoming space. He has agreed to be the spiritual director of our October 2011 Convocation of Priests here in St. Petersburg and that alone should be worth the time my priests take to be with one another. Bishop Etienne’s writings come from his own life in priesthood and from his love of such diverse realities as St. Catherine of Siena about whom he wrote his Licentiate paper in Rome to nature and the outdoors. If one is looking for that thought where you might best connect with God’s loving plan for creation and redemption, a few minutes spent with Truth in Love is a great place to start.

Screen shot of Catholic Education

Catholic Education, Michael Zelenka's blog

Michael Zelenka

Michael Zelenka, Principal of Incarnation Catholic School

Finally, I am not the only person in the diocese of St. Petersburg to spend some time time blogging. There is a new principal of Incarnation School in Tampa who posts something new, timely, reflective, thoughtful and theologically very sound about once a week. In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that Michael Zelenka came to this diocese as a graduate of Notre Dame and spent two years teaching at St. Petersburg Catholic High School in ND’s Alliance for Catholic Education program (ACE), followed that with five years as the first Athletic Director of the new Bishop McLaughlin High School in Pasco County, then after gaining a second Masters degree, this time in Educational Administration from Notre Dame, he was Assistant Principal at Christ the King School in Tampa before beginning this summer at Incarnation.  I witnessed the marriage of Mike to his wife Emily (herself a teacher at Villa Madonna School in Tampa) and have remained close to them since their marriage. Now having warned you of all my prejudices, I invite you to take a look at Michael’s blog entries. Mike was a “walk-on” in football all four undergraduate years as Notre Dame and his older brother, Joe, is the long snapper for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL, so he speaks passionately and convincingly on occasion of a spirituality which should infect all sports and athletics. However, you don’t have to know a shuttlecock from a racket to appreciate his thoughtful reflections on the faith formation role of Catholic Education. Try it and you will like it.

Well that it. That’s where you can find me bogged down in my best blogs. And I thought this was going to be a short entry. I am bogged down myself. Watch this site for the next entry which will be entitled and focus upon “pajama parties.”


TRIBUTES TO AN AMAZING MAN (Updated 10/29/2010)

Monday, October 25th, 2010

As I have often said, I do not wish this blog spot to become a forum for polemics, disagreements, displeasure with the Church or myself, etc. There are plenty of other places that excel in that. But I am going to break my long-standing custom of not sharing the comments which readers make by posting below all the tributes which have been shared with me about Monsignor Scully who died on Wednesday and  for whom I will celebrate his funeral Mass next Wednesday at eleven a.m. at St. Theresa Church in Spring Hill. Since those of you who commented were not expecting to see your words in print, we shall not print the names and as additional comments arrive, we will add them to this electronic tribute.


  1. Monsignor will always be missed. My most vivid memory is one Sunday during mass he was giving out communion and someone did not consume the body. Being the sharp tack that he was, he noticed and went after the man. Monsignor always wore a cassock and as he ran after the man, he looked like Superman. He had to be in his 70′s then. It was at that moment I came to know the importance of receiving communion. Thank You Monsignor. You taught me so much.
  2. I love you Msgr. Thank you. I am a better person because I was touched by your true holiness.
  3. As a Benedictine sister, here at Holy Name Monastery, I have so many memories of Msgr. Scully because of the wonderful work he and our dear Sr. DeChantal Ducuing did as they worked together on projects for the Propogation of the Faith and the religious programs in the diocese, which are still evident today. All of our community will be praying for the repose of the soul of this priestly priest.
  4. I among others owe so much to Msgr. Scully for his work at St. Catherine of Sienna. I remember Msgr. Scully in his early days at St. Catherine which were not great in number but powerful in effect. I am saddened by his passing but joyful over the timing of the Lord’s call. This Priest could never have asked for a more spiritual ending to his earthly ministry. While my memories of Msgr. Scully are distant they are not vague even if they are short. I believe the Diocese of St. Petersburg has been and is blessed to have so many special priests, and a very special Bishop.
  5. There were many signs that told me I needed to join the Catholic church, the church in which I was baptized but not raised. And then there were several different people who told me I needed to get to St. Teresa’s Church in order to follow those signs before Msgr. Scully retired since he was the best and the only one from whom to learn about the Church and to do what I needed to do in order to become a full-fledged Catholic. I followed those suggestions and learned a tiny bit about how holy this beloved man, this wonderful priest, really was. His reverence for the faith was truly awe-inspiring and I will NEVER forget him. There have been several times I needed to talk to a priest but was told by more than one that they were simply too busy to spare me even 15 minutes of their time when I was really in need. I had helped them but when I needed them? But Msgr. Scully was not like that at all. It was his privilege to talk about the faith and to help in any way he could. He would talk about the huge numbers of people he was blessed to have been able to help in Africa each year and when he had to leave St. Teresa’s it was so important that he be allowed somehow to continue his work somewhere else – and he found that home with Fr. Bill. God bless you, Fr. Bill, and God bless you, Msgr. Scully. God truly scripted your passing into His hands for your end on this earth could not be more perfect. I will miss you and your Christmas cards each holiday season. Thank you, dear Msgr., for everything you’ve done and all you have given to so many people around the world. I have no doubt you are resting in great peace.
  6. Our dear Msgr. John Scully, now, your job is over on this earth and as you enter gates of your Heavenly home, you will be greeted by the sounds of the trumpets and with your mother and father standing by the door. May you rest in peace.
  7. I met Father when he was assigned to St. Therese Parish in Everett, Massachusetts. I was in high school at the time and chose him as my confessor. Our friendship started there and continues until now. He was always there, ready to listen and ready to guide. I had the good fortune to work with him in Spring Hill for a year. It seemed that in trying times in the family Father was always there for us, consoling and guiding. I was with him when he made the arrangements to be brought back to Boston for burial. Fr. Ray Lettre called me on Friday to tell me of Father’s death. I am grateful that he will have a showing, Mass, and burial here in Boston. Mass was difficult for me this morning but I felt that Father was with me and I firmly believe that he will continue to listen to me, hear my petitions and continue to guide from heaven. Can’t you just hear the Lord saying–”Welcome, good and faithful servant.”. I have indeed been blest to have such a wonderful and faith-filled friend.
  8. So sad to hear the news of this Godly mans death. You are so right he would have picked this way to pass had he been giving that choice. Every Christmas we would get a letter from him and it was amazing how much he did at his age. He was Pastor at St. Patricks, Tampa, Fl. when all my children were born and he baptized two of them. May he rest in Peace.
  9. A gentle leader; a marvelous role model.
  10. Msgr. Scully will truly be missed at St. Stephen. Msgr. was always on the go. The beginning of 2009 I received a phone call from Msgr. asking if I could help him start a Legion of Mary at St. Stephen. He was so happy that he want to go to visit all the New Comers or what else Fr. Bill wanted him to do. He really did an excellent job in the Legion. I could see how happy he was when he came to the meetings to talked to us about Jesus and Mary. He will be truly missed. Rest in Peace my friend for a job well done…..
  11. The saddened news of the loss of Msgr. John Scully came as a surprise. As a member of our family he was a man who you always thought would be around forever. As a child he taught myself and my siblings the Hail Mary in Swahili when he returned from Africa on his Missionary work there. He always stayed at our [aunt]’s whenever he returned back to Boston to visit the family. He always made himself available to the family to celebrate Mass with us as a family. When my grandmother passed away he celebrated a special Mass for us. His homily still is fresh in my mind. I’m sorry I can’t attend a Mass for him this week in Florida or in Massachusetts. I’m studying at Catholic University in Washington but know my prayers there will be heard.
  12. The Church has lost without any doubt the finest priest bar [none] in Florida.  A Boston native dear Msgr. Scully was so deeply spiritual. He cared for others more than anyone I have ever known.  He was a model priest.  He was [saintly] more than anyone I ever met…  I was converted to by Msgr. to the Catholic faith in Tampa.  He was so caring and understanding.  I remember the late Bishop Lawrence Riley of Boston always kept in touch with this saint as he called him.  So much can be said [of] dear Msgr. Scully… Rest in Peace Msgr. No doubt at all the Lord will say “Welcome home good and faithful servant’. Amen, I know I can [now] pray to him for any help I need.
  13. Msgr. John Scully is the priest who catechized me and received me into the Roman Catholic Church nearly 16 years ago when I was 52 years of age. He was fond of quoting St. Theresa who said words to the effect that she could do more good in heaven than here on earth. Msgr. Scully was also fond of saying that he regretted that he only had one life here on earth to serve God. I would beg to differ with him. Msgr. Scully has a new life now, and can join St. Theresa in doing even more good here on earth. Those of us who knew him personally will find great comfort in knowing we have such a friend in Heaven. To Msgr. John Scully “a priest forever”.
  14. Fr. you have [imparted] the gift of God that you have to so many people, we [appreciate] your life and we will forever be [grateful to] God for a life well spent. Sleep in the Lord servant of God. Rest in peace dear Msgr. John.
  15. A truly spiritual man in all ways. Rest now.
  16. Such a marvelous tribute. I have been blessed to have met many of our great priests and he has made an indelible mark on my heart. What a fine example of the priesthood. Thank you for your kind and loving words.


Monday, May 24th, 2010

As regular readers can tell, I enjoy sharing my thoughts with a wider audience through the use of this blog. It first came into being when it was clear that the diocese would be leaving the newspaper era and investing more in time and talent in the “on-line” opportunities. The FLORIDA CATHOLIC which was read by a very small segment of our Catholic population cost the diocese and the parishes something near $650,000 per year, its subscription and circulation list was in decline and it was “touched” (which does not mean read) by only 20% of those receiving it. It was useful, kept us informed on coming events in the diocese, nation and world and reported on what had recently happened. I miss it, I must confess. But print journalism, at this moment, is in decline and so the Church must seek other ways of communicating and this blog has merely been one of those ways in our local Church communicates (see the Diocesan website and podcast, the Living Eucharist website, the Vocations website, and the Ministries of Mercy website

When I started, Cardinal Sean O’Malley in Boston had begun a once a week personal blog and I have always enjoyed reading what His Eminence posts. Since I had originally begun writing for the FLORIDA CATHOLIC a weekly column (entitled mind you, “Out of the Ordinary”), I thought blogging would be an interesting adventure. I knew right away that I did not wish to enter disputatious argumentation so the comments received would only be read by myself. I also promised myself that I would never use this blog to attack in any way any single person or to speak terribly ill of any single person or groups of persons. I challenge you to go back through the year and a half of these entries and find one. However, those who comment on the blog are clearly not bound by any bond of charity and I would say about ten per cent of the comments make me cringe to think that the writer might profess the faith which Jesus left. But I don’t mind it and if people feel better because they unload their anger on any blog writer, myself included, then so be it.

Blogs generally have no responsibility to the truth. Many of them reflect the deep divisions and polarizations present in society today. They are meant to be controversial, to stir up emotions, and in some instances to tear down people and/or institutions. Yet some clearly navigate the waters carefully, reporting, challenging in a Christ-like manner, generating thoughtful reflections and moving people like myself to delve deeper into the real meaning of events and insights. There are some wonderful blogs about matters of our Catholic faith and I for one have gained much more insight from them in recent years and I was from the journalistic printed word or radio and television with their brief segment approach to the most complicated of issues.

On judgment day, there may be a special line in which we “bloggers” must stand before hearing those words, “well done good and faithful servant” or its terrifying opposite. For my part, I will continue to offer my reflections on life in the Church today until something more effective comes along but I am committed to kindness and reserving judgment. To those who have proffered comments, thanks. Some of you have seen that I have listened and responded in later entries without so identifying that the change or nuance in my thinking has originated with a specific comment. It has been suggested that the comment part of this bishop’s blog should be eliminated but I learn from your insights just as I hope you learn from mine. “Bloggery” like flattery may ultimately get us nowhere but it can be fun too.


Thursday, March 4th, 2010

The title of this blog entry which will arise from time to time means “and other things” and signals that you should look for an entry that most likely lacks “unity, coherence and emphasis.” In other words, I will use occasions like this to raise a number of issues which are clearly unrelated to each other. So fasten your seat belt, here goes:

One thoughtful reader upon reading the entry on the level of charitable giving in the US to Haiti in the five weeks since the earthquake asked what the likelihood is that it is getting to the people who need it the most. It is a good question and all I can do is share my experience, now several years old of chairing the Board of Catholic Relief Services. Haiti is a challenging place for non-profits to work. There is a dreadful combination of corruption and violence present in that country which every private voluntary organization working there must be prepared to deal with. It is nothing to have a band of armed men break into a warehouse with food and steal it only for the purpose of selling it on the black market. The strongest of locks and the presence of armed guards secures nothing in that country for sure. Yet, most of what is donated for the needs of the general population does get to those in need. Giving it to the government to distribute is not a great idea because of the corruption factor and one thing which helps CRS is that they can use a vast network of parishes and churches as distribution points and that works more often than not. To the writer of the comment, the pictures of the army using force to drive away those storming the food distribution points was likely necessary to keep the method of distribution to those most in need going. I would have bet that had those storming the food center been successful, everything being shared, donated, sent for the poor and needy would have ended up on the black market. Haiti can be chaotic at times but I think that CRS and other PVO’s are succeeding in seeing that what they have to give gets to the right people. Will it be perfect? Not likely. Can it still be effective and fair distribution? Yes.

Health care is back on the burner and I am suspicious that the anti-abortion protection of the House language will not be present in what is parleyed through the legislature in the coming weeks. We need health care but we do not need a new “open sesame” which for all intents and purposes directs yours and my taxes to support abortion services. It looks like the action is slated for the Senate and I encourage all to “swamp” Senator Nelson with pleas that he change his position. The rest of this diocese’s elected representatives in the House remain pro-life but they need some pressure to work harder for an acceptable health care proposal in general. Remember, the official position of the Church is that access to safe, affordable health care is a right in itself.

On a much, much smaller scale of human interest, most of my doctors have declared me “cured” and my surgeon has politely and appropriately begged “never to see me again” – professionally. I am back to work, taking the major public liturgies which I used to celebrate without fail but will continue through Spring not “to overdo it.” My recovery is an answer to many prayers – my own and many of yours as well. It is wonderful to feel useful once again.

The Florida bishops meet in Tallahassee next week for what we call “Catholic Days at the Capitol.” Joined by several hundred volunteers we annually descend on the legislature as it opens its annual session, usually but likely not this time see the Governor for a discussion of issues of mutual concern, celebrate the annual Red Mass for the executive, legislative and judicial branches (usually only a sparse representation of the legislature shows up), and meet as a state conference of bishops. It can be one and a half long days so we will see what my staying power is this year.

On Tuesday I am going to drive right through Tallahassee and keep going to spend an hour with my dear friend and fellow bishop, John Ricard, of Tallahassee-Pensacola. He is in rehab at the moment and remains in need of many prayers. He is a great man and a good bishop and the priests, deacons, religious and people of his diocese are worried about and for him. I will report in this space how he seems to be doing after I see him on Tuesday.

Don’t forget, we are once again lighting our Churches next Thursday night, March 11th and hearing confessions from 5-8 pm. The Light is ON for You.

So now you know what the Latin phrase et alia means – assorted and unsorted thoughts while shaving. God bless.



Friday, January 29th, 2010

There have been several comments raised to recent blog entries, two of which merit, I think, mention here. First, I was asked if the diocese and Catholic Charities would be of assistance to families seeking to adopt orphans from Haiti. The answer is affirmative when the Haitian and U.S. government come to some agreement on how to handle these requests. It is hard at the moment to discern the mind of the governments involved but assisting in placing orphans and adoptive children has long been Catholic Charities stock in trade. Stay tuned here for more information if a “breakthrough” materializes.

Someone has asked why I have not signed on to the  MANHATTAN DECLARATION. Philosophically and ecclesiologically I am deeply devoted to the structure, purpose and  collegial nature of our episcopal conference, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. They speak for me when they pass something as a body or delegate our President to speak on our behalves. Prior to 1984 no bishop would have thought of signing onto documents originating elsewhere. While I accept the purpose and principles of the  MANHATTAN DECLARATION, I  personally prefer to allow the Conference to speak for me on matters of public policy. It is in my DNA so be you will need to be patient with me once again. I have no case against those bishops who do not feel similarly constrained and publicly acknowledge that it is a “thing with me.”

Hope these two responses are illuminative and helpful.



Saturday, November 14th, 2009

I am fairly certain that it was about a year ago that I began this effort at “blogging” when on the way home on AMTRAK from the annual bishops’ meeting in Baltimore, I wrote my first entry. It is an  effort which I  have enjoyed immensely and I am grateful for all the compliments and even the occasional criticism which have met my various efforts. Next week the bishops will be meeting again in Baltimore but I am unable yet to be present. I regret this reality but accept it as an additional part of the occasional suffering and disappointment which accompanies my long recovery.

I spent last night reading the materials for next week’s meeting. The public agenda is rather light and the “Executive Session” agenda looks interesting as it always does. A recent trend which I have alluded to in the past is to put the more important issues requiring discussion and discernment into “Executive Session” and place only those items which are ready for final debate and vote into the open, public sessions. This trend would deeply bother many of the bishops I knew well and admired from the late seventies and eighties who were pleased with the move to openness and transparency but we are a different breed of “bishop-cat” these days, preferring not to air certain issues in public until they are ripe and ready.

What I will do this year since I will have the time is provide my own comments and thoughts on matters before the bishops each day of the meeting and at the conclusion of the daily sessions. Obviously, I will not be privy to closed session discussions and even if I were, I would respect the confidentiality of those meetings. To do otherwise would be “going rogue” as we have recently come to understand that phrase.

Looking back on my year in the blogosphere, I am learning still. I think I made a good decision in the beginning to allow my readers to share comments with me but not publish them. I prefer catechesis to confrontation and have no desire to enter into polemical jousting with anyone. Most of the comments have been helpful and constructive – some, especially from those engaged in keeping “Hillsborough Cares”  from coming into existence have been vicious. But I read them all and have corrected some errors in my own work as a result of the constructive criticism which has come my way through the “comments.”

Finally, if it is indeed an anniversary for the “Blog” it can right be celebrated by all of us, not just myself. Thanks for listening, reading and responding over the last twelve months.

Bishop Lynch


Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

As they often say on Sunday afternoon between 350pm and 415pm, but slightly paraphrased from the NFL games, “We would like to welcome those people who have been watching the Church in the US and the world through Whispers in the Loggia to our humble little commentary on a great local Church, the Diocese of St. Petersburg.” If this is the first time you have taken a peep at this blog, maybe a small introduction would help. For the first nine or ten years I was here as bishop, I communicated on a regular basis with the people of the diocese in two ways: with a daily radio program of five minutes of something less than pearls of great wisdom entitled “On the Air with Bishop Lynch” on our powerful and gifted 100,000 watt SPIRIT FM. Then I also wrote a fairly regular column for the diocesan edition of the FLORIDA CATHOLIC entitled “Out of the Ordinary.” The paper is no longer a part of our diocesan communications opportunities. After ten years of deadlines for submission to the paper and recording sessions, I was fairly worn out and found myself writing and talking about what I and others considered minutiae of Catholic Church life.

The electronic media began to catch my attention and this blog, soon to celebrate its first anniversary, is the result. I write only when I have something to share or teach. The average time it takes me to prepare a 500 word blog entry is between 20 and 30 minutes (sometimes they read like “haste makes waste”) and there is only the moment when the muse suggests I write, not a deadline. Do I reach as many people as the former column and radio show – not even close, but “hits” on this blog were rising until my five week confinement in late July and August. Now in recuperation, I am beginning to get my energy back and have time, lots of time every day, to share reflections on our lives as Catholics.

I read your comments personally but do  not answer them because in some instances I wish to avoid useless polemics and in other instances some are very personal to the person who comments. Many have offered me new perspectives in challenging pastoral problems.

Now some news. Bishop-elect Etienne has asked me to deliver the homily at his episcopal ordination on December 9th in Cheyenne. I am grateful to Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap, of Denver who as the principal consecrator  has allowed me this privilege. Most of my diocesan family remember that in the year of his death, 1996, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin preached at my episcopal ordination. I am not much more agile at this moment than the Cardinal was that January 26th but it will be a labor of love.

I promised myself and my doctors that I would not make trips outside of the diocese until after my ileostomy is reversed soon after the first of the year, but I will make an exception in this instance. I will be unable to attend the November Bishops’ meeting in Baltimore but should be back to full form to welcome the USCCB to St. Petersburg in June for their special assembly.

Finally, John Barry of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES does a second wonderful job in four days in today’s paper’s coverage of the Holy See’s announcement about the offer to the Anglican Communion. I could take no exception to his conclusions. I will return to this topic myself in a few days when by mind is better capable of dealing with what was for myself a total surprise.



Saturday, June 13th, 2009

A very astute and respectful reader has pointed out a misstatement in the entry about the murder of the abortion Doctor. In that article I offered as the third requirement for mortal sin that a person has to knowingly commit the act knowing that he or she would offend God in so doing. Well I was partly correct but the reader pointed me to the Catechism of the Catholic Church which states that the third requirement is that the act be done “with full consent of the will.” That is the correct terminology and I tried hard when I was writing the blog in the absence of the Catechism to recall the precise language so what I wrote can be ascribed to a “senior moment” and is one more proof that when someone looks at my writings, they are going to throw up their arms in exasperation and say, “what was that man thinking?” Thanks, Pam, for the rejoinder nicely delivered.