I often tell people, when I was filling out my application for law school, I answered the question, "Why do you wish to become a lawyer?" quite simply: because I hate bullies.
And let me also make it perfectly clear: this is my blog and here is where I express my opinions and observations. So if you have issue with what I say, take it out on me.
Now, as one might have read here before, I wrote a post that was critical of Kathleen Beckman and the local Magnificat chapter, as well as a local priest associated with her. To recap:
1. I reported that I was informed that she and the priest conduct private "healing" sessions by appointment only at St. Joachim's church. For all I know, the pastor is aware of this and approves. I don't know. My opinion, however, is that this is something risking liability in the current environment that the Church finds itself in, given both the "closed door" nature of the sessions and the relative inexperience of the priest (who has been in diocesan work some 2 to 3 years only). People who feel they are in need of a "healing" are likely, I believe, to be vulnerable, or God forbid the wrong person comes and later accuses the two of some misconduct. It is just not worth the risk, in my opinion.
2. I reported that Ms. Beckman asks for "love donations" or "love offerings" at meetings. I do not know how strongly she encourages them or whether they are requested in the private healing sessions. If someone does, please report it here. But again, there can be a very thin line between offering the opportunity for someone to donate and actively soliciting money. Again, in my opinion, it is an area of risk.
3. I reported what I observed firsthand at the Magnificat meeting. You know, there is a reason why Medjugorje is not a Marian apparition authenticated by the Vatican - discernment is required. I make no bones about it - I did not discern any real "charisma" in the speaking in tongues or reported visions at the Magnificat meeting I attended, and just because it "happened", I don't think we can assume it is real. Or you may - hence why I invited people to go and check it out for themselves. I do not profess to receive revelations from God and I am naturally skeptical of those who do without knowing their track record.
4. I am not responsible for comments made on my post - only the person who does so is, and even then, as I have stated, I allow anonymous commenting. So you may read something someone else has stated, but never know who they are.
5. Did I take a mocking tone in my post? Yes, I am a snarky bastard when I want to be. So if you are offended by that, my apologies. I will say, though, that I will use such a tone again here, because it is my blog. Blogger, WordPress - these are all free services. You can start your own, if you like.
Now, why am I saying all this again? Let me go back to where I started, with my comments about bullying. I found out that one of my friends who invited me to observe the Magnificat meeting - who has been a member of her parish for 15 years and active in various ministeries - has been asked by her pastor to "curtail" all of her ministries and to refrain specifically from entering either the sacristy or the sanctuary. This was his direction in consideration of the "feelings" from the priest referenced in my original blog post.
Mind you, this same priest (not the pastor, but he of hurt feelings) went out of his way to berate this women for "all the trouble that blog caused Kathleen and Magnificat," claiming that Ms. Beckman was summoned by Mother Nadine to "explain herself" and by the Diocese as well. And told her that he hoped that I would not show up at another Magnificat meeting, and that he read my blog and concluded I was falsely calling myself a Christian for being critical of Cardinal Mahoney, Bishop Brown, and the Pope.
Well, I can assure this priest that I had no plans to attend another meeting because I found it hokey. I had seen enough. Although I am curious to know, what would he do? Summon the police? Because oddly enough, that is exactly what Ms. Beckman threatened to do in an email shared with me if my friend had shown up at a recent retreat promoted by her parish. In fairness, I have not authenticated the email, but I do know that my friend plans to share it with her pastor. And well she should - any repeats of such threats by Ms. Beckman suggest to me, as a lawyer who has dealt professionally with such things, a restraining order against Ms. Beckman may be advisable.
Although, again in my opinion and without knowing what the priest told the pastor, I think before a pastor arbitrarily tells a long-time parishioner to stay away from ministeries where she has given her time, talents, and treasures for years, he should at least talk to her first about what happened, rather than postpone that chat until he returns from his trip to China. I do not know what my friend will do. I know she is upset but if pastor returns to find that the conversation is not necessary because she decided to take her time, talents, and treasures to a more welcoming parish, well, that's his tough luck. She is welcome at my parish.
And if Ms. Beckman was called to account for how she ran her ministry . . . well, maybe that is a good thing. If people are becoming concerned then maybe it means there are things being done that should not be done that have been flying under the radar for awhile. Or maybe the priest was simply lying. I don't know.
And what I find hifreakinlarious is that everything is about my bloody post here on my blog. Oh, I did get contacted by a priest who is close to Ms. Beckman - and outside of the parish in question - who asked that I call him because he "wanted to shed some light on Magnificat and convince [me] to remove the post." I sent him a message declining a conversation but asking that the light be "shed" in the comments here so everyone could read them. I also reiterated my policy that anonymous comments shall remain such, even if I know who is posting them, and that if I made a misstatement, I would not remove the post but publish a correction and/or retraction here. So far, I have not heard back from him. Otherwise, no one else has contacted me.
So there is the current state of affairs. Oh, and for the priest in question whose "feelings" are so delicate that a person has to be banned from coming near the sacristy or sanctuary, in matters of faith I am obedient to the Magisterum. In matters of policy, such as handling of the sexual abuse in the Church, I may not be and do not consider it "un-Christian" to offer my criticism. I would like His Holiness to be more strict with those bishops and cardinals who abetted the crisis with their malfeasance - or nonfeasance, as it were - in handling abusive priests. I hope that makes things clear enough for a canonical lawyer to understand.
There. I have had my say. If anyone takes issue, come after me. Leave the innocent alone.