I have done some digging through my massive file archive on the Diocese of Rochester in order to assemble a few pages for the upcoming “Diocese of Rochester Wiki” which will be a part of Cleansing Fire 2.0. A very interesting article that I had saved away happened to catch my eye. The item of interest is an October 22, 2002 Democrat & Chronicle article entitled “Area Catholic Churches to Overhaul Operations.” This piece dealt with the upcoming second round of Pastoral Planning that was about to take place in the diocese at the time.
There are a few interesting and revealing comments made by a certain DoR Pastoral Administrator. That administrator is Ms. Barbara Swiecki, soon to be “Pastoral Leader” (to borrow Nancy DeRycke’s terminology) of Good Shepherd [Henrietta], Guardian Angels [Henrietta] and St. Joseph [Rush].
Here is a passage from the article, emphasis and commentary added:
“One of those lay leaders is Barbara Swiecki, pastoral administrator of St. Agnes Church in Avon, who has a master?s degree in theology.
In keeping with church law, Swiecki cannot be ordained a priest or a deacon, nor can she celebrate Mass. But she is in charge.
?The buck stops here,? she said with a laugh, adding that the parish has welcomed her warmly. ?The priest is here for the sacraments — and everything else administrative, even directing pastoral care, I do.? [Blatant violation of Church law, and a slap in the face to priests everywhere]
She said more people like her will be coming. [Dear God, help us!] ?I do believe this is where we?re going currently in the church,? she said. ?This is a very good model for lay involvement, and we do have a priest.? [In all honesty, Ms. Swiecki, this model will probably be thrown out by our next bishop beginning in 2012/3. And you, and all your cronies will be out of a job which should never have existed in the first place]“
Our diocese claims to be following Church law, but it is repeatedly evident that they are breaking it, burning it, and throwing manure on top of it. The law is crystal clear; only a priest may direct the pastoral care of a parish. Period. In this article, Ms. Swiecki admits (yes, she admits!), “everything else, even directing the pastoral care, I do.”
Perhaps Ms. Swiecki is unfamiliar with the 1997 Vatican document Ecclesiae de Mysterio, which deals with lay involvement in the ministry of the priest. The document provides the proper interpretation of Canon 517.2 (Hear that Bishop Clark? There is a correct interpretation of the Canon). Here is what the document says about laypeople participating in the pastoral care of a parish:
“The right understanding and application of this canon…requires that this exceptional provision be used only with strict adherence to conditions contained in it. These are:
a) ob sacerdotum penuriam and not for reasons of convenience or ambiguous “advancement of the laity”, etc.;
b) this is participatio in exercitio curae pastoralisand not directing, coordinating, moderating or governing the Parish; these competencies, according to the canon, are the competencies of a priest alone.”
Come on, Diocese of Rochester. The document clearly says that laypeople can’t direct the pastoral care of a parish, yet Barbara Swiecki admits that this is her duty. You’re not fooling anyone anymore, Bishop Matthew Clark, Fr. Joseph Hart, Fr. John Mulligan, Fr. Kevin McKenna and co. The diocese may say the right things in public, but their hand-picked administrators continue to spill the beans about what is really going on, and what their role truly is. These lay administrators are directing the pastoral care of parishes, they have been for almost two decades, and this is forbidden in the Roman Catholic Church.