My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Recognizing Good Priests in the Midst of Scandal



Dear Blog Visitors:

We continue to be saturated with stories in the media concerning the escalating sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church. As you know, I have made several videos on this topic, and I have tried to identify causes and solutions to the crisis.

A couple days ago, I received a letter from a Pittsburgh diocesan priest. His request to me was very simple and reasonable. In brief, he asked that I consider making a video that recognizes the many good priests throughout the world, who continue to serve faithfully, despite the hardships caused by the abuse crisis.

In the video I am providing above, I indeed paid tribute to all priests who serve those in need, whether the priests be celibate, married or women.

The Pittsburgh priest who wrote the letter to me helped me to realize the stigma many good priests experience in public places. In this particular case, the priest experienced people staring at him at an airport, since he was wearing a collar, whereas this was not the case before the sexual abuse scandal became headline news.
It is indeed tragic that it is now difficult for a priest to wear a collar in a public place.

While we must continue to work toward solutions that will end the sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church, we must also continue to express our gratitude to the vast majority of priests who serve faithfully on a daily basis.

Peace to all,
Ray

Friday, April 23, 2010

Busy At City Hall



Dear Blog Visitors:

I haven't posted anything since Easter, due to the fact that I am gearing up for my annual hectic pace connected with my secular job at City Hall in Rochester. This is not to say that my job doesn't keep me busy other times of the year, which is evidenced by the fact that I haven't taken a vacation day since December 24 (Christmas Eve). However, as the City prepares to transition from one fiscal year to the next (May through July), I can't say I look forward to the annual ritual of dashing through the halls at breakneck speed, and shuffling paperwork at 100 miles per hour

My workload will actually increase if Mayor Duffy's plan to take over the Rochester City School District succeeds (I would be responsible for the School District's payables in addition to my present duties of supervising payables for all City departments.) However, I nevertheless support the Mayor's plan, because I know he is 100% committed to top-quality education.

A friend recently asked if I live in City Hall, because I always seem to be consumed by my job. The answer is obviously no. However, even at home, my mind is often on work and it is not uncommon for me to start the day's planning process as early as 3:00 AM and it is quite common for me to take work home with me when stacks of paper rise faster than my pen can move. (NOTE TO TAXPAYERS: I DON'T CHARGE THE CITY FOR OVERTIME, AND I HAVE DONATED MANY MONTHS OF VACATION TO THE CITY AS WELL.)

Whenever I do find that I am consumed by my work, and even when it becomes overwhelming, I have to remind myself that I am fortunate to be employed, and I continue to pray for those who are without work. Nevertheless, it is my hope to be able to retire from my City Hall job in 2011 and devote the rest of my life to ministry and my personal hobbies, in addition to perhaps working at a part-time secular job I might enjoy.

I am actually going to try to take some leisure time this weekend, especially considering that I worked last weekend. Next weekend, I am looking forward to participating in the ordination of five women (three deacons and two priests).

I have actually been too busy with work to write on church reform topics the past few weeks, which will make my critics happy. However, I may find the time to produce another video for my YouTube channel. In the meantime, my best to all of you.

Peace,
Ray

Sunday, April 04, 2010

A Very Blessed Easter to All



Dear Blog Visitors:

In the video above, I put politics aside and wished all a very blessed Easter. It is my prayer that despite all the tensions in the world, and the terrilbe news concerning worldwide sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, that somehow the good news of the Resurrection will lift us up out of the ashes.

In the spirit of ecumenism, I attended a beautiful and meaninful Good Friday celebration at Incarnate Word Lutheran Church in Rochester. The music was a wonderful complement to the reading of John's Passion. Incarnate Word is known for its top-notch liturgical music and I was not disappointed.

I find I still cringe at the reading of John's account of the Passion, due to the blame John placed on first century Jews for the Crucifixion. This has led to many centuries of anti-semitism. Fortunately, Vatican II and contemporary scholarship have remedied the injustice caused by John's Passion narrative. While most of John's Gospel contains a wonderful theological treatise on the human and divine attributes of Jesus, I would much prefer that Luke's Passion narrative be used on Good Friday.

My thanks to Incarnate Word for a Good Friday liturgy that was well done. I also want to thank the pastoral staff, musicians and all others who worked hard to put together a very special Easter morning liturgy at St. Anne Roman Catholic Church in Rochester. The music was very uplifting and my attending gave me an opportunity to see my good friends, Fr. Jim Lawlor and Sr. Joan Sobala (pastoral administrator at the parish).

May the Risen Christ be with all of you during the Easter season.

Peace,
Ray

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Seal of Confession and Sexual Abuse



Dear Blog Visitors:

The topic of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has been headline news for the past couple weeks, considering that the full scope of the crisis is only now coming under unprecedented scrutity.

Thus far, I have addressed this looming crisis from two perspectives: 1.) the role mandatory celibacy may have played; 2.) the role the pope may have played.

In the video above, I address a third dimension of the sexual abuse crisis - namely, the role the Seal of Confession may have played. My recommendation in the video is that the Vatican examine its long-standing policy of secrecy in the confessional booth (whatever is revealed is never disclosed). In cases when priests admit to abusing a child, the priest hearing such a confession should be allowed to report such revelations to bishops or civil authorities. Pastoral counselors, for example, are required by law to report cases of revealed abuse. Therefore, priests should place the protection and rights of victims over a possible cover-up created by the Seal of Confession.

Let us continue to pray that the Vatican deals with this crisis in a realistic manner.

Peace to all,
Ray