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Evansville, Indiana
May 15, 1998     The Message
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May 15, 1998

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 Father Vogler's appointment By BISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER of the Diocese of Evans- you about a decision made in appointment. Vogler, a Roman Catholic priest of the continues on federal probation sentence for receiving child the mail. Although Father ded a prison term and psychi- treatment was provided during d the completion of his prison and with the affirmation of the probation officials. Father Vogler months of in-patient treatment with psycho-therapy. Upon comple- py, he returned to the dio- to take an assignment therapy. In every has cooperated completely. treatment program, I have ue with his therapists. At the con- V ' ogler s in-patient treatment, I par- discharge conference. The central was Father Vogler's reassign- : At the outset of the confer- the receptivity of the community return to ministry, whatever it my observation that there sy silence in the community o-and-a-half years since the had been confronted by postal inspec- discharge conference, his therapists gler posed no threat to chil- As a precaution, so as not to jeopardize his recovery, they recommended that he not be placed in a parish with a school, that he should not live alone, and that he have a structured life with supervision. Otherwise they placed no limitations on his ministry in the church. Father Vogler's chief therapist was asked to rec- ommend a priestly assignment that would both uti- lize his priestly gifts as well as provide a structured life. It was judged that hospital ministry would be the best possible ministry for him since he would become a staff member on a large pastoral ministry team with strict supervision and a defined daily schedule. With that recommendation in hand, I approached St. Mary's Medical Center. I met with Rick Breon, Chief Administrator of St. Mary's Medical Center and Sister Catherine Kelly, a Daughter of Charity who heads the Pastoral Care Department and supervises all pastoral care ministers. Within that conference, I reviewed in detail all elements of Father Vogler's journey since December 1995. I asked directly if it would be possible that Father Vogler be assigned to the pastoral care staff of St. Mary's. We discussed the receptivity of the community to this appointment. We acknowledged that there would be some negative response to it, but we judged that the ministry to be . provided would outweigh any public reaction. After several days allowing time for the hospital executives to seek their own internal counsel, I received word that St. Mary's was willing to accept Father Vogler and to welcome him as a member of the pastoral care team. As bishop and pastor of the Diocese of Evans- ville, I appointed Father Vogler to St. Mary's Medical Center. His appointment was made in the same way as other priests are appointed in our diocese, in keep- ing with our ordinary process for clergy personnel assignments. In doing so, I misjudged the social climate in our midst. The uneasy silence about Father Jean Vogler  that I had noted during his imprisonment and treat- ment suddenly ended. The eruption of public reac- tion came with an unexpected intensity. It reflected the full range of the spectrum. Reactions within the Catholic community alone have run the course of strong support and affirmation of my decision, to uncontrolled fear of Father Vogler, to outrage and condemnation of me and my leadership. The wisdom of Solomon is needed here. Admit- tedly that gift is not mine. However, in recent days I have reminded myself that I am a pastor. I am the shepherd of all of the Catholics in the diocese. I also hold a position of moral leadership in the communi- : My greatest concern is for those who are voiceless and afraid. For an individual or a family, admission to any hospital carries with it its own anxiety and trauma. To add the dimension of fear, no matter how unfounded it may be, would be unconscionable in my pastoral judgment. This led me to the only conclusion possible. This past weekend, I again met with Rick Breon and Sister Catherine Kelly. I explained to them that I felt it nec- essary to withdraw Father Vogler's assignment. My pastoral reasons were twofold: 1) I cannot place an additional burden of anxiety on anyone seeking med- ical attention at St. Mary's because of Father Vogler's presence on the pastoral staff, no matter how unfounded it might be; and 2) Father Jean Vogler's ministry, no matter how good it might have been while on the pastoral care staff of St. Mary's, would be minimized within the social climate existing in our community. For these reasons, I am announcing the withdrawal of Father Vogler's appointment to St. Mary's Medical Center. Further, in consultation with Father Ralph Schipp and with his gracious acceptance, ! have withdrawn his appointment as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Schnellville, Indiana. He will remain as chaplain on the pastoral care team of St. Mary's Medical Center : : CLEMENTS ip , is "parish" -- P- is a parish? a Pastor, or to as a Pas- who is charge of Life Coot- Pastors; it's neces- to Pastor group of ff or the also a larg- commonly Yes, church, a (now mostly Parish center"), and the "multi- all of these one typi- The essence of parish cally finds much activity. There are meetings and classes and dinners and games and, most important, religious wor- ship services galore. All in all, a parish is a lively thing. And, just in case you were wondering, Canon 515 of The Revised Code of Canon Law (the official legal book of the Catholic Church) defines a parish as "a definite communi- ty of the Christian faithful estab- lished on a stable basis within a particular church (NOTE: the term particular church is Canon Law language for diocese); the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop." Now let's take all of these ingredients m the people, the buildings, the activities, Canon 515  throw them into a pot of water, bring it to a high, roiling boil, and distill the entire parish to its absolute essence. The product is the basic "stuff" of a Catholic parish condensed into two key words: relationships and communication. Relationships and communi- cation  two common words with enormous implications for a parish community, especially one which is considering, or engaged in, a process of total stewardship conversion! The success or failure of a parish's stewardship conversion process hinges on the relationship and communication skills of its ordained and lay leaders. Every human being is experi- enced in relationship and com- munication. We've experienced them -- but we're not always good at them! On the relation- ship side of our personal equa- tion we find families, friends, co-workers and, for some of us, teachers and students: people with whom we interact daily. In a parish community, human interactions involve pastors, staff members, and parishioners in a myriad of settings. All human relationships involve communication  even when we're not actually speak- hag. (Remember:. most commu- nication is nonverbal!) There- fore, it seems logical that individuals who are adept at interpersonal relationships, and who are skilled communicators, have what it takes, at least "on paper," to be successful in their endeavors. Likewise, persons who are ignorant of the forces which influence human behavior and attitudes, and who are unable, or unwilling, to engage in effec- tive, relevant dialogue with oth- ers, will be much less likely to succeed in their relationships, careers and other ventures. However, we need not be dis- couraged; there is hope! Even skilled communicators and knowledgeable students of human behador are certainly not perfect. And the least skilled and knowledgeable among us can markedly improve our abilities and knowledge with study and training. The first step, of course, is to acknowledge our imperfec- tions, then be courageous and open-minded enough to actively seek ways to hone our skills and increase our l_owledge. Sadly and tragically, howev- er, many of us are simply too proud to admit our interper- sonal weaknesses -- even when they are blatant. When con- fronted with our shortcomings as communicators and partici- pants in relationships, we often become defensive and still Continued from page 4 cashier's office was foiled when an alarm sent the robbers flee- ing. Because violent crime is so rare inside the Vatican, the city- state's legal apparatus for deal- hag with such acts is fairly rusty. Vatican trials are rare, and its ancient prison is now used for storage. The investigation of the Swiss Guard murder fell to the Vati- can's only investigating magis- more entrenched in inept and even harmful behavior. In effect, we dig our failure hole ever deeper. Unfortunately, the residue of Original Sin is still within all of us! So what's the message in all of this? We need honest feed- back about our interpersonal and communication skills especially those of us who are in leadership positions in our parishes and schools. Where we discover weaknesses and faul and there will be some!  we need to take steps to overcome them: read self-help books; take classes; attfnd workshops; and communicate to those whose lives we touch that our devotion to them means more than our misguided pride! WWJD, Good Steward? trate, Gianluigi Man-one, who colleagues said had no inves- tigative experience. : i, ' : In 1996, his office dealt pti- i, madly with traffic violations and other minor-infractions rated with the Vatican in the past were called in, but there was virtually no thought of handing the case over to the Italian iustice system.