|Priest Saddened by Ewtn Priest's Departure; 'Bella' a Regnum Christi, Legion of Christ Film; Mother of Soldier Decries Fred Phelps; 'Perpetuating a Lie'
By Matt C. Abbott
November 18, 2007
Recent news that Father Francis Mary Stone has stepped down as host of EWTN's Life on the Rock youth program — after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a woman — has surprised and saddened many Catholics.
I asked Father J. Patrick Serna, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Banquete, Texas, if he had a comment on the matter.
Father Serna's statement (via e-mail) is as follows:
"It is always sad to see someone walk away from promises, especially solemn ones, which were made if front of the Altar of God, with Jesus in the Tabernacle as witness. This holds true for Father Francis Mary Stone, for others who have gone down that road, and it also holds true for those who have decided to choose divorce. I am reminded of Genesis 25:29-34, when Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for some bread and lentil soup.
"We are all sinners and I do not judge Father Stone; I appreciate the fact that he decided to step down from his high profile position. If there is sin involved, it is of weakness and not malice. St. Alphonsus Liguori said that for every one demon which attacks a layman, one thousand attack the priest. There is no justification or rationalization for sin, but there is always God's infinite forgiveness. We should pray for Father Stone and for all priests, me included."
The feature film Bella is "an award-winning movie directed and produced by Regnum Christi members who wanted to use their talents for a noble mission," according to the movement's Web site .
"...The Regnum Christi team behind Metanoia Films wanted to show the beauty of love and life in such a way that it would change people's lives. What they didn't imagine was that this movie would also save lives. So far, Bella has already given hundreds of women second thoughts about pregnancies they were thinking of terminating. After seeing the film, they took a risk and gave love — and life — a chance...."
"The Bella promotion effort could also be a great way to introduce more people to Regnum Christi; after all, as producer Sean Wolfington himself said, 'Bella is the fruit of Regnum Christi' and it shows in action what the Movement is all about: evangelizing by bringing human and Gospel values to modern culture in the most effective way possible; adapting to the needs of time and place in a media-driven culture; working vertex-to-base with real artistic talent but also person-to-person on the grass roots level (get going on those ticket sales!); helping people to accomplish more by working as a team. Bella is the fruit of Regnum Christi because it fulfills our essential mission: to make the truth shine in all its beauty and to bring souls to Christ."
Regnum Christi, affiliated with the Legionaries of Christ, was founded by Father Marcial Maciel , who was disciplined by the Vatican in 2006.
Sandra Bourassa, of Mo., recently sent me the following e-mail in response to my Nov. 4, 2007 column :
"Let me give you a perspective as a mother of an Army soldier. My husband and I have four boys — three men and one young man. Our 24-year-old son Kelley, from the time he could walk, has been in love with the military. He admires the dedication, the commitment to God and Country above one's own life, and he cherishes the freedoms that the military fights to maintain.
"Kelley has always had leadership qualities, which he demonstrated throughout his youth and in high school sports, academic and social life. After high school Kelley enrolled at University of South Florida and joined Army ROTC. He graduated from USF and was commissioned in the Army in May of this year. He is presently going through Army Ranger school in Ft. Benning. After his training is over, he will be eligible to be shipped to Iraq or Afghanistan.
"The very thought of my son not returning home to us is more than I can bear. I have had many bouts of uncontrolled sobbing; I am not sure how I am going to handle it when our son is shipped out. We pray so hard for our son's success and the success of our military, but most of all, for the safe return of our son and our military. However, should the time come that, God forbid, we have to bury our son, the last thing I want to see and the last thing I will tolerate is some idiot like Fred Phelps and his gang of thugs protest at my son's funeral. It is all well and good to support freedom of speech; however, freedom of speech ends when that freedom of speech causes pain for others. God does not hate; He does not preach hate. Phelps and his thugs hate, and they preach hate."
Rochelle Brancato, of Colo., recently sent me the following e-mail:
"I would like to share my thoughts about conception, parenting and children — in association with life's uncertainties.
"As you know, my husband and I lost our baby at 20 weeks gestation this year. This week is a tough week for me because November 10 was the due date for our son. It was my first pregnancy. After our baby died, many women in my life shared with me that they also lost pregnancies to miscarriage and stillbirth. I truly did not think it happens as often as I now know.
"My husband grieves terribly for our son, as his hopes for fatherhood were crushed. A good and loving man, his loss is compounded by being a divorced father. He never thought that in his life, he would not parent his children on a daily basis.
"My in-law parents never thought their son (and now my husband) would be sexually assaulted by his priest and Catholic school principal. These crimes undermined their parent-child relationship and perverted the family's relationship with God.
"We talk often about the lesson of 'No Guarantees.' So, when I hear rhetoric in the media about controlling exactly when to become parents — I wish we would talk more about the beauty of chance.
"There is pressure out there to be on birth control and abort pregnancies — and it is mostly financial pressure. Conversely, there is pressure to have the perfect pregnancy and delivery. I'd like to offer the insight that we are not guaranteed to have a healthy baby when we decide it is the right time. For the women out there trying to legislate control and guarantees — they are perpetuating a lie.
"On the other hand, there are too many mothers barring fathers from their healthy children — in retaliation for shattered white-picket fence dreams. We do not pick our parents, and are not guaranteed functional families. For those who promote obstructing the biological parent-child relationship — they are perpetuating a lie.
"We are also not guaranteed that our living babies will remain safe from harm. For authorities promising safety from predators, sickness and danger — they are perpetuating a lie.
"For the first time in my life, I feel human and womanly amidst absolute uncertainty, chaos and mystery. It is a tearful and lonely, yet peaceful and wise place to be.
"In honor of our son, Krause, delivered to Our Lord on June 30, 2007."
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