The Homily That Got a Priest Canned in Bishop Barron’s Archdiocese

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Many Catholics often complain about priests giving anodyne, useless homilies.  Rod Dreher explains why this is the case.

On Sunday, August 26, the day after the Vigano testimony was published, a young Catholic priest named Juan Carlos Gavancho preached a bold homily in the Santa Barbara, California, parish where he was assistant pastor. He preached about scandal, and standing up for the faith. You can hear the entire homily here, on his Facebook page.  It’s 20 minutes long, but the most intense part starts shortly after the 10-minute mark. I have transcribed it below.

Here is a link to the same homily in Spanish. 

The reaction to this sermon was swift. Within two days, Father Gavancho was told by his pastor to get his things and vacate the rectory.  His name was taken off the parish website.

Go here to read the rest. Here is part of the text of the sermon:

 

 

The evil has found in the Church a hold. And it is natural for people to believe that there is nothing else to do in the Catholic Church. Maybe many are thinking of leaving the Church. After the terrible experience of 2002, with the abuses, many people left the Church. Now, another opportunity, many people are going to leave. I hope they don’t do, I tell them that they need to stay, that this is the Church of Christ. But if they do, believe me, I understand. Because it is very bad what we have allowed to take place in the Catholic Church in the world. Because this is not only America. In the world! Everywhere! Chile. Ireland. Australia. Everywhere.

If you are Catholic, and you love the Catholic Church, you cannot just say, “Well, let’s pray, let’s offer a couple of rosaries, and we’ll see what happens.” You cannot do that. You have to pray, but pray for truth. You need to pray so God can act. He has begun to act. Who may think that yesterday, that a former Vatican ambassador from the Holy See to the United States was going to write 10, 11 pages letter saying this — asking for the resignation of a pope?! Who may think that? If you had told me that yesterday morning, I wouldn’t have believed you. But that’s what happened.

So, what are we doing now? Where are we going from here? First of all, we must understand one thing. This Church, the Catholic Church, is the Church of Christ. It is the Bride of Christ. St. Paul is right when he said in the letter to the Ephesians, “He has cleansed the Church with His Cross, with His blood.” She is beautiful. We have betrayed her. This is not an abusive church. This is a holy church that has fallen into the hands of abusive, evil men, who are trying to destroy the Church from within, since they couldn’t do it from the outside throughout the centuries.

But you must be aware that Christ is in charge of the church. He is in charge. Sometimes on days like this, we may not see him. We may not feel him. And we may cry out like we did at the beginning of the mass, “Please, Lord, help us! Have mercy on us!” But he’s in charge, and he will bring justice. He’s already begun to do that. These things I have told you are just the beginning. Just the beginning. Many bad things are going to happen, and we need to be glad, because nothing is better than the truth. To know what is happening, even though it may be ugly, it may be painful, to know it is very good. So, Christ is in charge.

Second, pray. Do sacrifices. Pray the rosary. Come closer to the Lord. Ask the Lord to be part of his flock. Because you will see many wearing cassocks like this, or chasubles like this, many preaching from the pulpits. They are traitors. So you need to have something that in the Catholic Church is called discernment: the capacity to know where is God and where is not. Regardless of it seems like God is here or it seems like God is there. No, no — now you need real discernment, because the Devil has clothed his children with shepherd’s clothing, to make it more difficult to recognize him.

You need to pray for discernment, to pray for the Church, to pray for you, for your children. To pray for your priests, especially for so many bishops who are good, still, and priests who are good, faithful. Who have suffered greatly all these decades, and all these years, being moved from one parish to another because they were preaching the truth, and the pastor or the bishop didn’t like that, so they moved to another place, and another place, living a life of great suffering — they are there. And it’s not fun. It is difficult. You cry a lot, because you feel lonely. Forgotten. Despised. Only because you wanted to be faithful to Christ, but your speech, and your homilies didn’t fit with the ideas of these people who wanted to destroy the Church, and who wanted you to say nice things to the people. Don’t make waves. Just go along with everything. Don’t make people nervous. Just, you know, speak about general things, so people are not aware of what’s going on.

So my dear brothers and sisters, then we must act, which is part of a process of conversion. You must act. Bishop Fulton Sheen, one of the greatest bishops that America has ever had … said that: “Do not look for change in bishops and priests.” Do not. He was talking to you. The change in the Church … will come through you laity. When you don’t give up, and tell your pastor and your priest and your bishop: “Tell us the truth! Stop being just nice, and smiling to us, and preach the Gospel to us! We want to live a holy life, not the life that the world lives. Tell us the truth, and we will help you to sustain the Church with our money and other things. But you, you need to do your mission, you need to do your job, which is helping us to get to heaven. To be saved. To give us the Sacrament, to love Jesus, and not just to be politically correct. That’s not the Gospel.

But that’s the temptation that you laity have fallen into. … Speak out! Do you want the Gospel? Do you want Christ? Do you want heaven? Do you want the truth? Or do you just want what we find everywhere in the world, which is what we really want to hear, what is pleasing to our ears. Demand change in the Church. It’s not going to be enough, just adding a couple of policies to this taking care of the children. It’s not going to be enough just to see three, four, or five cardinals resigning, and ten bishops resigning — it’s not going to be enough. We need to see real change. We need to go back to be faithful to Christ, to Our Lord Christ, not the world. We are here to change the world, not the world to change us. We are the light of the world; we are not equal with the world. We have Christ. We have the truth. The world is helpless. The prince of the world is the Evil One, and we are hear to fight against him.

Now, what I’m saying might sound very hard for you, and I have to say I’m sorry, but I had to say it. Because I’m sick and tired of seeing my mother the Church being insulted and portrayed as an institution of criminals. Because it’s not. It’s my mother, it’s your mother! The one who gave you eternal life through baptism, who gave you the courage through confirmation, who gives you the Eucharist every Sunday you come. She’s our mother, and we need to help her in these dreadful times. So my dear brothers and sisters again, I have to say this because I am priest of Christ. Many people don’t say that, and I was afraid to say something like that. There are more things I want to say, but I don’t say it because I want to be here next week.

[Applause]

But I need to say this, and I ask the Lord’s pardon, because I’m a coward too. Sometimes I don’t say what I should say, because sometimes I’m more concerned about my position. Pray for me too so I may be a saint. But suffering is hard, it’s tough, you don’t want to suffer. Pray, my fellow Catholics, in these dreadful times. Demand from your leaders the truth — only then everything will be fine. With Jesus! Not with cardinals, not with popes. These are human beings. Some are wonderful, some are bad. Only with Christ. Only by doing his will. Only by staying next to him faithfully, everything will be fine. And I tell you this: everything will be fine. The Church of Christ cannot be destroyed through anybody, not for the Devil. They will not destroy the Church, but they will take some members of the Church away — yes, that he can do. And we pray that none of us will be one of them. So my dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord help us in these dreadful times to have courage. I have my hope in God, and in you, the laity. You will save the Church.

 

I hope there is a Bishop with some manhood in this country who will give this truth speaking Priest a parish.  The “with some manhood” provision obviously excludes company man Bishop Robert Barron, coordinating bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

 

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34 Comments

  1. Bishop Barron played his cards…
    He lost.

    The young holy Fr. Gavancho is being true to himself and his calling. He won that hand.

    Was the young priest warned prior to delivering his homily? Possibly. His words sure do elude to that; “There are more things I want to say, but I don’t say it because I want to be here next week.”

    “Who have suffered greatly all these decades, and all these years, being moved from one parish to another because they were preaching the truth, and the pastor or the bishop didn’t like that, so they moved to another place, and another place, living a life of great suffering — they are there.”

    This man of God has courage.

    Bishop Barron might wish to pray for the courage to ask pardon for his rash judgement against Fr. Gavancho. That however is not likely to happen. There are those who like the church of mush. A “nice” church.

  2. “There are more things I want to say, but I don’t say it because I want to be here next week.” Father Juan Carlos knows the truth and he is the proof.
    I am ashamed of Bishop Robert Barron. From Bishop Barron’s mushy responses I believe he has no substance. if Bishop Barron understands that the abuse he covers for is done by ex-communicants, he will find his courage to act wisely.
    Posted earlier:
    Giving consent to a mortal sin excommunicates the sinner before he enacts his crime. There are no sex abusers in the Catholic Church as they have all excommunicated themselves. Those committing crimes and not removing themselves must be removed forcibly, defrocked, laicised and excommunicated permanently. Allowing a pervert to reside in a monastery enjoying his perversion or a murderer to enjoy his first degree homicide crime in prison is a crime, a crime against Justice, God’s perfect Justice. These criminals have FREELY chosen to be an abomination.
    Stop wringing the hands and start cleansing the temple. Only the truly repentant deserve compassion and mercy. The rest have chosen hell and are enjoying the trip. God does not revoke free will.

  3. While we’re at it, the smart money says we don’t get crummy homilies because the bishop is going to call and have the curate evicted (something canon law would impede in the case of a duly installed pastor). We get crummy homilies because to compile a file of original reflections on the readings in the lectionary (which can then be assembled when the time comes) is not something clergy want to do, presumably because the task bores them. Also, you mention the four last things or offer a practical application which diverges from what people ordinarily do, you irritate a certain constituency in your parish (some of whom will grass you up, while others just leave the parish). Too much for the tames in clerical culture.

  4. Anyone who thinks the Pastor did this without orders from at least a Bishop, a client of mine has waterless Arizona land just waiting to be sold to them.

    Again, the evicted curate attributes the sequence of events to the pastor, and states his belief that the pastor complained to the vicar for priests. The modus operandi – compose a long list of contrived / trivial complaints – is something I’ve seen scheming supervisors do to employees they have it in for; managers are usually too detached from situations to be bothered with that.

  5. It doesn’t pass the smell test Art. This all came so soon after the homily that I have no doubt the homily was the precipitating factor, and a pastor simply does not have the power to do what was done here, which was to make this priest persona non grata throughout the Archdiocese. Priests being transferred within a diocese is one thing due to personality clashes, but this type reaction is usually only reserved for priests under criminal indictment.

  6. In the Spokane dioceses in the 90s, this kind of quick reaction meant that the big donors had called up the bishop and ripped his ear off. We had it happen when Father Kerst (Kurst? Homophone of “cursed”.) did a sermon on the indissolubility of marriage. It wasn’t exactly ground breaking theology, just a well-crafted talk you might hear on EWTN or something.

    The big money in our parish, which was the only one in the big bunch of satellites that wasn’t a money sink, were all divorced. (Probably without annulment, not that I ever thought it my business to assume they were living in sin. Just going off of the explosive reaction.)

  7. I don’t dispute that the homily was the precipitating factor. The question is from whence came the initiative, and the curate in question is clear that he believes it was the pastor and that the pastor made the case to the vicar for clergy. Again, unless I misunderstood him, he’s incardinated in Chicago, not Los Angeles. What doesn’t pass the smell test for me is the idea that your boss’s boss’s boss could pick you out of a police line up, much less has an opinion about you derived from their own knowledge.

  8. Pastors simply do not have this type of power Art, especially with such short notice. The Pastor played the role of Lord High Executioner, but he was clearly acting on orders from above, because he lacked the power on his own to do what he was doing. Foxfier’s theory about a big donor being upset strikes me as likely.

  9. “….you irritate a certain constituency in your parish (some of whom will grass you up, while others just leave the parish.)”

    That wonderful balance of prudent pronouncements v. Frankly speaking.

    Not wishing to sweep the benefactors out the door, and yet getting to the heart of the matter even though many may be offended, is the challenge I suppose. A smaller church engaged and evangelical…or a larger one cushy and comfortable? Bills must be paid!

    Our parish is a good example of the former church. Fifteen miles away from the large city.
    Four Catholic churches in the city.

    Our pastor speaks clearly and unconditionally.
    Not worried about offending the parishioners because he has the ultimate goal of salvation in his heart and mind for each parishioner!

    Has he lost a few from the pews? Yes. Has he filled that pew with replacements? Yes and additional parishioners to boot.

    My guess is that this is where the “trust in God,” truly is appreciated or disingenuous. We have parishioners driving more than 30 miles each way for Mass……not only days of obligation, but midweek as well. They have taken Holy hours of adoration at our PEA Chapel and faithfully filled their schedule.

    In other words it’s Faith!
    Sometimes loosing benefactors to gain souls for Christ is profitable if the intent and application of message is rooted in Truth.
    Some of Jesus’ followers walked away because the teaching was too difficult.
    Jesus did not apologise for His teaching.
    He didn’t run after them.. begging that they return and that he would water down his teaching from that point forward.

    No.

    He said; “Are you also going to leave?”
    (Jn 6:67)

  10. “It appears he’s a Chicago priest detailed to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for some reason.”
    -AD

    I don’t know the reason. What smells funny however is the Chicago air. Who would want a courageous priest to be silenced if he is saying things that go in direct opposition to the church of mush?

    Cupich?

    This young priest may have been a thorn in a certain Bishop’s side. (?)

  11. I am also bother by the implication that Bishop Barron did this. I am not a huge fan of his (though I admire his effective social media outreach to spread the Gospel). I just sense we are jumping the gun a bit. What are the facts? Did Bishop Barron himself indeed order the removal of this priest? Or, was Bishop Barron, in his role as Auxiliary Bishop, ordered to do so by Archbishop Gomez (to whom he swore a vow of obedience)? Or, was there some other personnel administrative process used? I don’t know – wish I did. Bottomline: I admire the homily and wish this priest well – and hope to understand Bishop Barron’s role, if any, in this situation.

  12. I haven’t followed this very closely but at this point (and I’m very willing to change my mind in the future) I agree with Bob S. in NC. To pin this on Bishop Barron gives Archbishop Gomez a pass.

  13. Ah, I belatedly note that Philip Nachazel has pointed out the story has been updated repeatedly.

    Definitely more complicated than it appears. But I will agree that orthodox priests will often be cut less slack when they are outspoken.

  14. The priest in question is definitely not a bad guy, but he apparently has problems as an administrator, which is why he has been moved around a lot.

    Is it possible we could quit expecting clergymen to be accountants? IMO, we’d be better off if dioceses clustered their parishes and had a treasury staff and a comptroller for each cluster, working primarily with parish councils. Without a doubt, there are plenty of wheel-spinners in chanceries you could rif in order to have the slots to allocate.

  15. Is it possible we could quit expecting clergymen to be accountants?
    –Art Deco

    I believe so. High-ranking managers of other large organizations are not expected to be accountants. I suggest that every parish have at least a few lay people in its lay leadership circles who understand the basics of bookkeeping and can explain the parish’s bookkeeping practices to others. A diocese must have among its lay parish management mentorship team a mentor accountant available for parish bookkeepers, lay parish council members, pastors, and associate parish vicars to call for advice.

  16. It’s entirely plausible that this guy is rock solid as far as orthodoxy & orthopraxy are concerned, and still be a giant pain in the butt to work with.

  17. That said, the manner in which he was summarily kicked to the curb suggests that his homily is the straw giant brick of truth that broke the camel’s back.

  18. How can they get rid of a disagreeable priest who tells the unvarnished truth in 48 hours but not the sexual perverts wearing the collar who are preying on the innocent flock????

  19. “How can they get rid of a disagreeable priest who tells the unvarnished truth in 48 hours but not the sexual perverts wearing the collar who are preying on the innocent flock????”

    Ever since I converted I have wondered this same thing. It’s fine well and good to justify getting rid of a “bad administrator” or a “priest who can’t get along with others” but what about the herd of out-and-out heretics…Are they all CPA’s with MBA’s from Notre Dame?

    And even if they were……….

    Truth is ANY priest could be booted and a “good” reason made public for his dismissal. Each and every one, no matter how efficient, how educated, how committed, how orthodox, how heterodox, how business savvy, how excellent a money manager, EVERY SINGLE one. A reason can be found to publicly disparage anybody, because every single person makes mistakes.

    The question is “Just EXACTLY why this one?”

  20. “Company man” Bishop Barron?
    Bishop Barron was not consulted about this decision at all.
    Wow, so many jumping to conclusions.

  21. There is no way on earth that a pastor expels a priest from his parish without the advise and consent/approval of the [regional] bishop, in this case, Bp. Barron.

  22. Art Deco & Micha Elyi

    Perhaps, this is a case where we could learn from our separated brethren.

    In England, the Church Commissioners’ accounts are laid before Parliament and are audited by the Accountant & Auditor General. The Third Commissioner (the first two commissioners are the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer), an MP but not a member of the government, answers questions in Parliament and before Committees in the same way as a minister. A more transparent system it would be difficult to imagine.

    There has never been a scandal in living memory and the funds are not trivial; last year, their assets amounted to £8,075,282,000. As a large part of this is landed property, the valuation is probably conservative.

    The diocesan boards of finance between them controlled assets of £4,317,503,000. Their accounts are audited by one of the Big Four and the auditors are changed every 3 years, to prevent the relationship becoming too chummy. The Commissioners have supervisory and regulatory powers.

    In the parishes, with assets of £10,546,353,720, the responsible parties are the two church wardens, who sign all cheques, one appointed by the incumbent, the other elected by the parishioners. They are professionally audited and a report is laid before the Parochial Church Council.

  23. Do we have any evidence that auxilary bishop Barron was part of this?

    There seems to be this internet consensus growing that all the bishops in the country consult with each other on each discrete action any of them takes between the morning urination and the nightly shower.

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