Recently in Peoria Diocese Category

Bishop Jenky's statement on abuse lawsuits


Since various news outlets are castigating my bishop for "lashing out" against just about everybody in his recent letter, I thought I'd post the whole thing so you can see what a "blistering attack" it really is.

The background, as far as I can tell, is that an appellate court recently overturned a lower court ruling that dismissed several lawsuits due to the statute of limitations expiring. SNAP -- the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests -- then organized a demonstration after mass outside of Peoria's St. Mary's Cathedral asking Bishop Jenky not to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. This letter seems at least in part a response to that request.

So here's the full text of the bishop's letter,followed by my comments.

February 7-8, 2009

Dear Priests, Deacons, Religious and Faithful of the Diocese of Peoria,

My greatest responsibility as your bishop is to preach the Gospel, celebrate the Sacraments, and to try my best to be a good shepherd for this local church. The saddest part of my ministry has been to deal with our part of the immense societal issue of sexual misconduct with minors. Where there have been credible accusations made against individuals and with the advice of my Review Commission, I have not hesitated to remove them from all active ministry. I have also tried to attentively follow the charter adopted by the American bishops that deals in a comprehensive manner with this painful subject. I have not discovered any evidence in this Diocese that priests guilty of misconduct were ever moved from assignment to assignment. Our Diocese normally offers counseling to victims rather than paying out large cash settlements. Not every allegation has been found to be credible by our Review Commission, and so our Diocese resists supporting those claims that simply cannot be sustained by the facts. I take very seriously my responsibility to protect all the children entrusted to our care, and I am absolutely convinced that today the programs of our Church now provide the safest possible environment in America for your children.

In these perilous economic times, I will work to be a prudent steward of the money you offer for the work of Christ. Attorneys representing some claimants and some "victims groups" obviously have a significant financial stake in trying to overturn our Diocesan policies. Recent decisions in the Illinois courts may make our legal situation even more difficult in the future. It should be noted that the sexual abuse of minors cuts across all socio-economic lines, ethnicities, ministries, and religions. It is important to remember that the State basically exempts its own institutions from civil litigation. Amid all the tensions of our nation's culture wars and in the face of the media's intense hatred for our Catholic Faith, I am increasingly concerned that our Church in effect no longer enjoys equal justice under the law. I will not be intimidated by choreographed demonstrations or the abuse that is sometimes personally directed against me. I remain immensely proud of the zealous and holy priesthood of our Diocese. May God guide and protect his Holy Church and bless us all in his service.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C.

Now, had anybody aked my opinion, I'd have strongly advised against referring to "the media's intense hatred for our Catholic Faith." That the media hate the Church is more or less true depending on individuals, but when you're dealing with a national scandal where many churchmen were not forthcoming about the abuse of children until and in many cases even after the press revealed their malfeasance, beating up on the media comes off as retaliatory, and in the context of this letter is unnecessary.

Be that as it may, Bishop Jenky's larger point, that the Church is being shaken down by victims' groups (enabled by courts and legislatures) in a way that no other institution could be, deserves attention. With one hand, the government exempts itself from being sued for abuse and with the other it breaks down legal barriers for the Church to be sued for the same wrongdoing (and remember, the statute of limitations exists for a reason). This unequal treatment affects the Church's spiritual mission and the related material goods it provides: schools, hospitals, family services and other social services. This is something that every Catholic and all people of good will should be very concened about.

Lastly, after reading the bishop's letter, is it not comical to read the characterization of it as an attack? I understand that journalists might bristle at being accused of hating the Catholic faith, but you would try in vain to see a journalist wrestle with Bishop Jenky's arguments about "equal treatment." That's not hatred of the Church -- it's just laziness.

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Prayer needed


The big news here in C-U is that one of the priests at the Newman Center was arrested on drug charges yesterday evening.

I checked the diocesan website and the Newman Center page for more information, but none has been posted yet. In the meantime. be sure to keep Fr. Layden and the staff and students at St. John's in your prayers.


The Bloomington Pantagraph has a more substantial report, noting that the Diocese of Peoria released a statement from Bishop Daniel Jenky saying that Fr. Layden has been suspended. The report also notes that Fr. Layden pled not guilty at his arraignment today.


HOI, Peoria's ABC affiliate, has a .pdf of the statement from the diocese.

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Peoria Diocese gains a defender


This is not the kind of story you usually come across at

When he was playing professional soccer in Chile, Chase Hilgenbrinck would seek comfort in the churches to satisfy his spiritual needs and remind him of childhood Sundays spent at Holy Trinity in his hometown of Bloomington, Ill.

Even after moving back to the United States last Christmas to play Major League Soccer -- a dream of his, but just one of them -- Hilgenbrinck felt the pull of his religion...

Hilgenbrinck accepted the calling on Monday when he left the New England Revolution and retired from professional soccer to enter a seminary, where he will spend the next six years studying theology and philosophy so he can be ordained as a Roman Catholic priest....

A 26-year-old defender who was the captain of the Revolution's reserve team, Hilgenbrinck will attend Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. After finishing his studies, he will report to his home parish in Peoria, Ill., for assignment.

Hat-tip to Indiana Brandon!

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Final word

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Obstinate dislikers of Bishop Jenky the Peoria memo are asked to explain this excerpt from the 30 Days interview with Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos:

Isn’t there also some apprehension that a small minority of believers may impose the mass of Saint Pius V on the parish? CASTRILLĂ“N HOYOS: Those who say that obviously haven’t read the motu proprio. It’s clear that no parish priest will be obliged to celebrate the mass of Saint Pius V. Only that if a group of the faithful, having a priest disposed to say it, asks to celebrate this mass, the parish priest or the rector of the church can’t oppose it. Obviously, if there are difficulties, it will be up to the bishop to act in such a way that everything takes place with respect and I would say commonsense in harmony with the universal Pastor.
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Peoria Diocese on Summorum Pontificum

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Fr. Z got a hold of a memorandum (currently not posted on the diocesan website) from my diocese's Office of Divine Worship to priests of the diocese concerning Summorum Pontificum and the celebration on the mass using the 1962 missal. While I've generally agreed with Fr. Z's writings on the Motu Proprio, I disagree with his take on this statement.

First off, he emphasizes that the bishop's signature is not on the document, which suggests... what? That the office is issuing norms without the bishop's approval? Is he implying that this allegedly anti-traditional mass memo is solely the work of the Director of the Office of Divine Worship? That's a problematic interpretation since the document repeatedly refers to Bishop Jenky's intentions, expectations and concrete plans.

Second, he interprets the statement in an extremely negative light. Granted, there are bishops on record with much more jubilant receptions of Summorum Pontificum. Still, Fr. Z overlooks the generally positive indications in the memorandum:

  • The number of parishes regularly celebrating the traditional mass is increasing from two to five. If these parishes are well distributed, that means a large portion of the diocese will have much easier access to the 1962 mass than before.

  • The bishop will provide training for priests who wish to celebrate mass in the extraordinary form Fr. Z does say that's positive, but it casts much of what he criticizes in a different light. He comes down hard on the diocese for suggesting priests should demonstrate competence in saying the traditional mass, but in light of the availability of training, that's not so bad, is it?

The last point is something on which I disagree with Fr. Z. He tends to take offense when bishops suggest that priests who want to celebrate the traditional mass should demonstrate that they can do it. While I understand that could be and in some instances is being used as a foil by unsympathetic bishops, I think it makes sense as a general rule for two reasons. First, priests don't get trained on the traditional mass in seminary. Second, if you hope (as Fr. Z does, and as I do) that the traditional rite will have a "gravitational pull" on the newer rite, fostering a greater sense of reverence towards the liturgy, you want to make sure that the priests offering the traditional mass are doing it right. You want people experiencing the extraordinary rite to have a good experience of it.

I remember an older priest mentioning that many priests used to say the old Mass quickly by only saying the first word of each line of the eucharistic prayer. Is that what we want the result of SP to be? Is that even a valid mass? As long as a bishop is going to provide the training (which, according to the memo, our bishop plans to do) what is the problem with asking the priests to demonstrate competence.

Third, I disagree with the exception Fr. Z takes to the language about most Catholics not experiencing any change. With all of the media misreporting about "undoing Vatican II" it's fair for the bishop to want to reassure people that if they like the Mass they have, they needn't worry about it being taken away from them. That wasn't a very nice thing to do forty years ago and it wouldn't be a nice thing to do today, even to correct past wrongs. Even if we hope that increased celebration of the traditional mass will eventually change the way the modern liturgy is celebrated, that change is supposed to be gradual, right?

This is not to say that I find the Peoria memo wholly positive. My concern is that by concentrating the traditional rite to a set number of parishes, the diocese is not de-ghettoizing it; instead it's merely increasing the size of the ghetto. That's clearly not the intention of Summorum Pontificum and I hope it's not the intention of my diocese.

Even there, however, the situation of the priests in the diocese needs to be taken into account. We have many pastors with 3-4 parishes whose boundaries cover hundreds of square miles of territory. These priests have weekly mass schedules that push the limits of canon law. With that in mind, it must be noted that the norms contained in the memo are at least partially meant to address concerns that were raised at the diocesan Presbyteral Council meeting.

Fr. Z is unhappy that the memo asks priests to refer small groups of parishioners requesting the traditional mass to the existing regular celebrations. Perhaps he didn't notice it, but that part of the memo is specifically addressed to "Pastors who are unable to offer Mass according to the 1962 Missal when approached by parishioners." That implies that pastors who can offer Mass according to the 1962 Missal should try to accommodate those parishioners. It also implies that pastors who cannot offer it might consider taking advantage of the training offered by the diocese so that they can.

Below the jump, I'm going to post the text of the memo so folks can read it for themselves without Fr. Z's emphasis and remarks. As an aside, anybody who knows Fr. Deptula (I suppose that even though I'm not exactly a journalist, I should disclose that I worked for him as a sacristan for three years) might be amused at Fr. Z's portrayal of him as Defender of the Abusive Modernist Liturgy.

Like I said, Fr. Z has a great blog and I appreciate the work he's done to promote the traditional mass and Summorum Pontificum. However, I don't think it does much good to harass a bishop and a diocese that prove willing to use time and resources to expand the availability of the traditional mass and to train priests to offer it.

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Homily at Catholic Men's Rally


Last weekend, my diocese had our annual men's rally and Mass that occurs near the feast of St. Joe. The Catholic Post has Bishop Jenky's homily online. Do check it out.


If Jesus is our best friend and our greatest love, we really have nothing to fear and we can be good men, faithful husbands, devoted dads, brothers and sons, zealous priests and deacons, unashamedly Roman Catholic believers. And just as every word of the Scriptures holds together and fits together, opens windows into eternity, and plants God’s truth in the very depths of our souls, so should our fraternity in Christ unify all our efforts and strengthen our fidelity.

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One of my favorite days of the year!

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The Catholic Post, the Peoria diocesan newspaper, has released the list of clergy moves which will take effect this month.

Last year, for the first time, I realized why I get excited about this every year: it's so very Apostolic. I think of Paul sending Timothy to the Corinthians, to the Phillipians, and to the Thessalonians to minister to them. It's another one of the ways that we're connected to the early Church.

Anyway, here's the list of this year's assignments.

What's got me particularly happy is to see that my own parish is getting a new associate pastor, a young priest who I know back from the old days. In fact last year, I blogged about a conversation I had with him some years back.

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No info here


I'm receiving lots of google hits concerning a priest whose work I've mentioned on this blog who has recently been accused of sexual abuse. I have no info other than what can be read in newspapers. The abuse is alleged to have taken place a long time ago, and my bishop has removed the priest from ministry pending an investigation. My only comment is that regardless of the truth of the situation, we should pray for the accused as well as for the accuser.

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Byzantine liturgy in Peoria last Sunday.


Oh to have been able to attend! The Peoria Journal Star has a write-up.

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Mama-Lu's Etsy Shop

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This page is a archive of recent entries in the Peoria Diocese category.

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