When Church Militant broke the story a few weeks ago about a Dallas, Texas parish, Holy Trinity, calling the cops on a pregnant young mother to have her arrested for not wearing a mask, outrage against Bp. Edward Burns exploded on social media.
Burns was one of the very first bishops in Texas to rush to microphones and publish statements that, even though Gov. Greg Abbott had lifted the mask mandate for the state, parishes in his diocese would still require them. Liberal clergy were delighted because his statement gave them permission to continue being tyrants and push the COVID fear, even when nothing was even remotely close to being dangerous (as in the case of the young pregnant mother with her 1-year-old, sitting alone in the back of the church, far away from any other person).
When the homosexual-friendly priest called the police to have her arrested, she explained that she was experiencing morning sickness and the mask was exacerbating that. So she didn't put it on but deliberately distanced herself from anyone else.
Not good enough. Arrest her. So the responding police said, "Get off the property or we'll cuff you."
Burns, feeling the heat, did actually call her after the publicity hit and tried to smooth things over by saying he was sorry, but he never did or said a thing publicly in what has become a very public matter. It's important to remember that "Bp. Mask" portrays his rule as one of being concerned for the health and safety of all; an act of charity to preserve life — love of neighbor and all that.
He has even ordered his chancery to be completely locked down. No one is allowed in for any reason, lest you bring death in the door with you. That was taken to such an extreme that when hundreds of people wrote letters to Burns insisting he apologize publicly for the idiocy of the priest calling the cops, they were instructed to put the letters into a basket outside the front door.
Apparently, each letter would be sanitized appropriately and, with mask, gown and gloves on under his astronaut suit, Burns would dutifully read each one. So no one and nothing is allowed in the chancery because of COVID. How convenient. Burns and his staff get to hide behind COVID and not be accountable for the insane actions of an off-the-hook priest.
But now there's a new wrinkle to this whole affair that reveals the truth of Burns' hypocrisy: If he's so concerned about masks and safety, then why did he himself show up at a fundraising dinner without a mask, as seen in a cell phone picture quickly snapped at the semi-private event? Bishop, as Ricky Ricardo would say to Lucy, "You have some 'splaining to do."
But that event was not an isolated one. It seems Bp. Burns has some well-to-do friends and supporters who, like him, only pretend to care about the whole mask thing. Apparently, the virus knows to stay away from rich people, especially if a bishop is in the room. It's a hell of a smart virus. Two weeks ago, a pretty influential couple in Dallas threw a private cocktail party for Burns and invited some other well-to-do Catholics who like rubbing elbows with the bishop.
The couple is Dr. Gladden Pappin and his wife Jeanette. Pappin is a faculty member at the University of Dallas and runs in somewhat exclusive circles. The guests are considered to be "Catholic elite," which would stand to reason since that's who the Pappins run with. Dr. Pappin is a pretty accomplished political conservative who writes articles for various publications, including Newsweek magazine. They live in a, shall we say, pretty nice section of Dallas: the Greenway Parks area, where quite a few homes list for more than $1 million.
The elite wanted to host a party for the embattled Burns to let him know that they didn't like what the common riffraff were saying about him being a mean old bishop who supported the arrest of a young pregnant mom for not wearing a mask. But here's the hitch: We are told that the Pappinses announced quietly to their guests that masks did not have to be worn — but no one should take or post any pictures so they wouldn't be discovered flouting the bishop's own rule with him in the house (who, by the way, was also flouting his own rule).
But we do kind of understand: It's a little difficult to be sipping martinis and munching hors d'oeuvres through a mask. So just ditch it — but don't let anyone know. The Catholic elite accompanied by the bishop can toast each other, while non-elites can get tossed in jail because of morning sickness.
Aside from Burns' over-the-top hypocrisy on this, there's a deeper issue that goes straight to the heart of the corruption in the hierarchy. These two-faced men schmooze moneyed Catholics left and right. Heck, it's probably the first course they take in "bishop school."
And, of course, the weakness of some wealthy people is wanting to be accepted as powerful, influential, having pull and so forth. So when the bishop shows up for cocktails, this weakness that comes with money is exploited perfectly. He has access to their funds, and their egos are reinforced about their own self-importance.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely how wicked bishops are enabled. They exploit anyone they can; they present two (or more) faces depending on the audience, and well-to-do Catholics fork over money to them, thus perpetuating the system.
Ask anyone who knows the McCarrick story. He used every wealthy Catholic he came into contact with, bilking them of tens of millions of dollars while putting on a show of being faithful and decrying abuse by clergy — all while abusing seminarians and promoting his friends such as Donald Wuerl, who took over for him in D.C. and covered for him perfectly.
In fact, the entire clerical network is built on whom you know and whether you agree with their view of the Church. With this in mind, it becomes easy to understand where a bishop is coming from. Men who climb the episcopal ranks do so because they have a keen ability to gauge which way the prevailing winds are blowing and whose ring to kiss.
So, looking at Burns, he's from Pittsburgh, and five years after he was ordained, his career took off once Wuerl became bishop. In fact, in a relatively short time after his arrival as bishop, Wuerl promoted him to be director of vocations. A couple of years later, he was promoted by Wuerl to be the head of clergy and ministerial formation for the diocese. A couple of years later and Wuerl tapped him again — this time to be head of clergy personnel.
What precisely did the lying, scheming, smooth-operating Cdl. Wuerl detect in Burns that he liked so much that he promoted him about every other year?
Then, two years later, Wuerl gave his permission for Burns to go national, being kicked into the stratosphere of the hierarchy by becoming the executive director of the Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C.
That is quite a meteoric rise. In the space of just 15 years, he goes from parish priest to actually writing the guidelines for the nation's bishops on priestly formation, catapulted every step of the way by the scheming Wuerl, who covered up brilliantly for McCarrick.
So given the company he keeps and the allies he has in the Church's rarefied air of corrupt bishops, it shouldn't be surprising that he was tabbed to go to Dallas to take over from Kevin Farrell — another McCarrick crony, who, like Wuerl, lied through his teeth when he said he was shocked by the revelations surrounding McCarrick.
Kevin Farrell was roommates with McCarrick for years in D.C. and denied knowing anything, which puts Farrell in the extremely rare position of having actually lived with two of the most notorious homopredator abusers in the 20th century Church and yet knowing exactly nothing about their "extracurricular" activities.
Farrell was in the Legion of Christ and was personal assistant to founder Fr. Marcial Maciel, who, for decades, raped and sexually assaulted essentially anyone on two feet, including both his own biological sons, illegitimately conceived in rape.
Farrell was in the inner circle on the Legion for years and yet, somehow, knew absolutely nothing about literally dozens and dozens of cases of mostly homosexual assault. Just like he knew nothing about McCarrick. And, of course, now he's been promoted to the second most powerful position in the entire Church: camerlengo.
That's a really good career boost for a man who has to be one of the densest in the world to have lived with prolific homopredators and be completely unaware of either of them. So when a bishop is appointed to follow in the diocese of a dirty bishop, it is normally the case that the appointment comes along with an understanding that the new guys will cover for the old guy.
That's why Wuerl replaced McCarrick in D.C. And it's a safe bet, given his pedigree, why Burns was put in place: to cover for Farrell.
Of course, none of this comes up at the polite chit-chat at the maskless cocktail parties that wealthy Catholic elites throw for bishops. These people are being snookered. And what's worse, they allow themselves to be snookered because they adore being in the important clique as part of the in-crowd.
You wonder, did anyone ask Burns while they were sipping martinis, "Why didn't you publicly apologize over the cops being called? Why did you just say something privately?"
Or did they ask:
Excuse me, Bp. Burns, but as I'm writing you a sizable check because you're so charming and know how to work the room appealing to our outsized egos, may I ask you, what are your thoughts about the man who promoted you, Cdl. Wuerl, lying and covering up for homopredator Theodore McCarrick? Are you disturbed that such a despicable man who lied and covered up sex abuse on his own watch in Pittsburgh and was named dozens of times in the Pennsylvania grand jury report and worked behind the scenes to prevent its release, does it bother you that such a man saw such potential in you?
But see, these kinds of conversations, especially in rich neighborhoods, well, they aren't really cricket, you know. That would be much too impolite.
Meanwhile, we can understand why Burns sometimes wears a mask and sometimes doesn't: His needs vary depending on which face he's showing.
This case and his hypocrisy has so roiled faithful Catholics who are not elite that a prayer rally has been scheduled right out in front of the COVID-free chancery for Saturday, May 8, at 10:30 a.m., Dallas time. For details and information, just click here.
If you bring cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, the bishop just might show up. But be sure to bring your rosaries. People are always asking what they can do. Well, here you go. These men must be held accountable for abusing their offices and, now, for hiding behind COVID.