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Father Paul John Kalchik, pastor of Resurrection Parish in Chicago, Illinois, offered this homily on Sept. 9.
"They were exceedingly astonished and they said, 'He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak'" (Mark 7:37).
In this moving Gospel account, a group of people brought one of their own to Jesus. The man had a speech impediment, and in a compassionate way, our Lord cured the man. This has always been one of my all-time favorite Gospel stories, for a number of reasons. Let me explain.
Back in the winter of 1965, I was four and in the aftermath of a severe storm that blanketed the city with ice, I suffered a very nasty accident. The neighbor boy, who was the engine powering my sled, gave it quite a push and I went headfirst into the curb. I bit the curb and after the accident, the broken remainders of my baby teeth were removed and prosthetic silver teeth were installed. These prosthetic teeth served well to eat my meals, but for the first couple of years of grade school my name was not my baptismal name Paul John, but "silver teeth" or the even more derogatory "metal mouth!"
My only consolation, if you can call it that, was that if my brother David heard someone call me "metal mouth" he would make them feel very sorry. David, almost four years older than me and all boy, would not stand for anyone calling his younger brother a cruel nickname, and my mother had to rescue him often from the school office, in trouble for punching classmates.
But even worse than the name calling for me was the prosthetic teeth themselves. I found they made it impossible for me to talk. I would try my best, but the oversized teeth made my speech all of a jumble. My father carted me off for a while to a speech therapist, but the sessions were to no avail. Try as I might, I could not talk properly. Clear speech came back after my adult teeth started to grow in and the prosthetic teeth were removed. My mother said that after that last trip to the dentist, I started talking, and then you couldn't shut me up.
So on a basic level, I find this Gospel story very powerful. Some friends made certain their mute friend could meet up with Jesus and perhaps Jesus could cure him. And the man who could not talk now could talk. For me, who struggled to talk for many years, I understand fully what a great gift Jesus gave this man, the capacity to speak clearly and be understood. It is easy to be cavalier when reading or hearing about miracles when one does not have the experience of having an affliction oneself, or knowing or taking care of someone else who has one.
Today, please take to heart the excitement and joy the friends of this mute man had after the miracle, so much so that they could not stop talking about it, even though Jesus said to shut up about it. Tragically for myself, my loss of the capacity to speak, the loss of my voice for a period of years in my youth, would not be an isolated event; it would be replicated as I got older by a series of two horrible events.
When I was 11 I was sexually molested by a neighbor. I was taken by this man in a locked car, to a locked dark garage and there in that car, in that garage, I lost my youth and my innocence, and it was tragic and it was evil. But, as kids are resilient and as I had good parents and a good holy pastor at my parish, I got over the worst of what happened to me, and at 17 I joined up with the Franciscans and began studies to become a Franciscan Priest.
Horribly, the specter of gay predators would catch up with me a second time when I was 19 and home in Chicago on summer break. That summer I worked at Villa Scalabrini in Northlake as an orderly, and everything was fine and dandy with my summer job and apostolate until the facility administrator, Fr. Lawrence Cozzi, abused me late one night in a locked room in the basement, beyond the kitchen. This second instance of abuse was worse than the first, as it took away my faith in addition to my innocence. After it happened, I just wanted to die and forget about everything, and to this day, I still suffer from time to time horrible flashbacks of that night, and they are debilitating, leaving me in their aftermath shaking and scarred.
But God is a good and gracious God, and after a very long period of time and a profoundly rewarding period of work providing for the needs of the developmentally disabled, I went back to school and was rewarded with two more master's degrees and was ordained a priest in the spring of 1999. And as all of you know at Resurrection Parish, I have been working as your pastor for more than 11 years, since August 2007.
Horribly, as you all know from the recent news, gay predators in the Church have not gone away, and things like the Dallas Charter have done little to curb the loose morals of many ordained clergy. In fact, I believe that because of the internet the Church today is far worse than it was when the Dallas Charter was signed. Many priests, bishops, archbishops and even cardinals have succumbed to lust and are far more busy worshiping lust than God.
Even more tragic than this is the fact that our institutional Church is wholly and completely compromised by this idol of lust. I am certain all of you have heard by now what Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò, our former papal nuncio, wrote at the end of August, the main gist of which is that Pope Francis removed sanctions imposed upon then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick by Pope Benedict. And as has been laid out by many good and reliable bishops, Abp. Viganò was and is a reliable witness to the truth.
What all this means is that Pope Francis is not suitable to sit on Peter's throne, as St. Peter would not permit an abuser of any sort to work as a priest, let alone an archbishop or cardinal. So I know this as a truth, as you know that I have always preached the truth to you from this very pulpit in this Church for the past 11 years. Pope Francis is now left with only one course of action to take, as all other options to restore the integrity and holiness of the Body of Christ, the Church, are gone, having been rendered meaningless and insufficient.
Pope Francis needs to issue a papal bull, that is, an edict from the throne of Peter, stating:
As of today, no ordained minister of the Church who perpetrates and/or is complicit with any and all forms of sexual abuse will be permitted to function and/or fulfill any role as deacon, priest, bishop, archbishop, cardinal or pope. All individuals who have acted with, and/or are complicit in cover-ups of this evil activity, the worship of lust, and who by their actions have demonstrated that their behavior is at odds with the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ will have all their faculties to administer the Church's sacraments removed permanently. Lastly, all compensation and/or remuneration for the care of these bad ministers will end. They will have to provide for their own person after having their faculties removed, their food, lodging and healthcare. Lastly, as pope, my very last act from the Throne of Peter will be to step down as pope, as I, when cardinal-archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina, was complicit in covering up the sexual abuse of young men. Additionally, after I step down I advise the Universal Roman Catholic Church to refrain from elevating anyone as bishop, cardinal or pope for a period of one year, which is to be a year of purification, fasting and above all prayer. Then and only then, after all these bad men are removed, may a good priest be elevated to the throne of Peter.
That is my sincere recommendation to Pope Francis and my firm belief that only something as comprehensive as this will get the institutional Church in line with Holy Mother Church.
Please pray, the faithful remnant who comes to worship here at Resurrection Parish week after week. God is good and He will not permit these evil men to continue to control the Body of Christ.