April 9, 2019

A Miracle – Maybe

On December 6, 2018, the EWTN program, “The World Over,” carried a story about an event that had taken place outside of Buffalo, N.Y. Sometime in mid-November, a consecrated Host was inadvertently dropped on the floor during a Mass being said at St. Vincent de Paul Church, in Spring Brook, N.Y. According to appropriate custom, it was placed in a cup filled with water to dissolve, so that it could be disposed of later. On November 30th, it was reported that a red substance had appeared on that Host. Pictures were taken and were disseminated on the internet.

Again in accordance with appropriate procedure, the pastor, Fr. Karl Loeb, contacted the office of the Bishop, Richard Malone. Fr. Loeb was instructed to immediately dispose of the ablution cup contents. The Bishop did not want to conduct any investigation into this particular occurrence. Fr. Loeb complied with his instructions. Tests were not taken and it is not known whether the reddish substance was human blood or whether this could be regarded as miraculous.

So why include this account here? It is included for the purposes of making a statement on the scandal currently plaguing the Church.

On March 20, 2018, the Diocese of Buffalo released a list of 42 priests who had been removed from ministry, were then retired or had died after allegations of sexual abuse had been made against them. One woman noticed that the list did not include the name of a particular priest. She wrote a letter to the Bishop with her story. In May of that year, the Buffalo News carried her story. In August, the local ABC affiliate, WKBW, began a 3-part series on the priest scandal, uncovering an internal list of over 200 priests that had some allegations reported to or investigated by the Diocese. In September, the Attorney General for New York issued subpoenas to all 8 dioceses in the State, including Buffalo. In October, the national CBS program, 60 Minutes, ran a feature with a whistleblower revealing details of a cover-up that she said her conscience would not allow her to conceal any longer. On November 5th, the Diocese updated its earlier list, adding 36 more names to it. Also on that day, the Bishop held a meeting with a number of priests from the Diocese on the ongoing scandal, and two of them asked him to resign. There had already been a number of calls from laypeople for the same thing. Outside the meeting with the priests, the Bishop held a news conference in which he stated that he would not resign his post. In December, reports began to surface that the FBI was interviewing witnesses in the Diocese, as part of an investigation into possible federal crimes.

It was into this troubling series of events that the episode at St. Vincent de Paul Church, in a rural location, just outside the edge of the metropolitan area, took place. Was it a case of the Lord sending a message for all to be at peace, that He was still the Head of the Church and that He was all they needed?

One eyewitness to the events, as she stated on the EWTN program thought for sure that it was Him, saying: “… so I went to the rectory and I actually saw Jesus at that time, what I thought was Jesus. There was a presence there and I instantly, when I saw him, I kneeled down to the ground and I was in awe. It was, it was absolutely fantastic to me. It was so simple but so majestic at the same time. I don’t know how else to describe it.”

Why would not the spiritual leader of the 700,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Buffalo be interested in determining whether a message of consolation was being given by Christ Himself? Speculation can often lead to erroneous conclusions, so we will readily disavow any conclusions and affirm this is mere speculation, but could it be that the Bishop simply did not want the extra notoriety? Could it be he did not want to have to deal with speculation that a miracle story was being furthered in an effort to divert attention from the scandal?

Still, if so, would any such reasoning be sufficient? If it was a miracle, then why not, “His will be done, not ours?” How are we to possibly guess at what good He could have been intending if a miracle it was? Would it not be almost always an act of humility to assume nothing and admit the possibility of a divine act, at least to the point of investigating further?

According to published reports, at least some Catholics in the Diocese have felt betrayed, in that the only way of ever knowing the possible gift of a Eucharistic miracle here has been denied them. That sense only adds to the sense of betrayal with which they have been besieged by the continuing stream of revelations of abuse and cover-up.

It is troubling to even recount all of this, and perhaps only add to levels of disappointment with Church leaders that are already present. Yet, healing requires self-reflection. Healing requires a reminder, such as perhaps was being given here, that there is one true Leader of the Church and, with that remembered, a sense of peace can be regained.

As a closing personal note, this story is not only important to the writer for the reasons given above, but also because Buffalo is my hometown, the place where my parents and grandparents are buried and the place where a part of me still remains. As it is said of the Body of Christ, when one part is harmed, the rest feels the hurt. From hundreds of miles away, I can feel the hurt of those who are there.

Source as to the EWTN program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X22I-fz8x9U.


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