Letter from Mr. James Gebel
My name is Jim Gebel; and, as of Palm Sunday of 2009, I have been a former member of St. Gertrude the Great Church ("SGG") in West Chester, Ohio (a suburb of Cincinnati). On July 3, 2009, I wrote a letter to Bp. Dolan (the pastor of SGG) explaining why I left. The initial thing which spurred me on to do that was an e-mail written by Eamon Shea the previous Christmas (2008) to Bp. Dolan -- a letter in which he alleged and/or alluded to inappropriate things going on at SGG -- things which were ignored or even condoned by the bishop and his assistant pastor.
I got hold of a copy of Eamon's e-mail; and after reading it, I did some "investigating" myself to ascertain about his allegations (some of which I already knew to be true). After checking with other SGG members to corroborate what Eamon alleged, I found out that all of what he was saying was true. That got my blood up, and caused me to decide to write to them myself (and to quit the place).
I must say, though, that I agonized over doing it. I thought, "This is not my fight. Why should I go to bat for someone else? Should I leave well enough alone?" But then I thought about the good, innocent parishioners who have been victimized at SGG, both by its clergy and at its school, and who have been ignored and discarded by them -- like so much unwanted refuse. To do nothing is to condone this. To do nothing is to perpetuate this.
So, I realized that it was my duty to speak up, that it was wrong to just sit there and let it happen unabated. Justice demanded it. Christian charity demands it. And, as to whether "it's my fight" or not, it's everyone's fight. The fact that some of the victimized have apparently "not fought back" does not give me leave to "pull a Pontius Pilate" and wash my hands of it.
Of course, one of my friends at SGG voiced his concern that I would be engaging in detraction if I spoke out (an interesting choice of words, since detraction is truth; he suspected that what I was going to say was true). But, after writing a draft of the letter and showing it to two lawyers, I was told by them that it was not only not detraction but that what I said in it was eminently justified. So I sent it out.
And in doing so, I have found out what it's like to be a "whistle blower" or "crusader." First off, it's a difficult, time-consuming task. Second, it's a largely thankless job (now I know how Eamon feels!). Several of the people at SGG, on whose behalf I took the risk to do it, criticized me for what I had to say; some wouldn't even answer my e-mails or phone calls -- even though they knew what I said was true and could not deny it. Out of a misplaced and inordinate "respect for the cloth," they thought that what I said was "inappropriate" or even detraction. The really hypocritical thing about it, though, is that when Fr. Cekada told Eamon (in an earlier e-mail) that he (Eamon) was (and I quote) "mentally ill," there was no hue and cry from them that this was detraction. Of course, they were "right," but only in one respect -- it wasn't detraction, it was slander! It seems odd that they can consider what Fr. Cekada said as "gospel" and what Eamon said as "garbage."
It's amazing to me that when someone has the courage and takes the initiative to speak out, all kinds "theater critics" suddenly come out of the woodwork to "critique the play" -- usually condemning the author on some "technicality," like the Pharisees of old. One SGG "lackey" criticized Eamon as being "disrespectful" for referring to Our Lady as God's "mom" in his Ode, instead of the usual "mother." So what?! For one thing, "mom" is a more intimate, endearing term than the more formal "mother." There is nothing disrespectful about it! And what's more, the "cadence" of the poem called for a one-syllable word. But Pharisees being what they are, they can't help themselves; when they can't refute the truth, they attack the truth-giver.
Another mode of attack that I've seen employed, both against Eamon and against me for what I said about SGG, is the argument of "leave these men alone; no matter what they are, the sacraments they give are valid -- and that's what counts." Wrong! For those at SGG who use this argument, I say this: First, they're not the "only game in town." There are other masses just as valid (maybe more so), and Dolan & Co. has neither the authority nor the jurisdiction to render them "illicit." Secondly, sticking with someone whom one knows is endangering the spiritual and physical well-being of fellow parishioners, for the sake of getting the valid sacraments, is both selfish and sinful -- especially when the sacraments are available from others. For those who risk their fellow parishioners' well-being to get their sacraments, I say "shame on you!"
For those who would take issue with what Eamon or I has said, I will again reiterate: "it's easy to be a theater critic, but it's hard to write the play." We "wrote the play." We took the risk. We stuck our necks out (for the good of others) to stand up and say something -- even though it wasn't our fight and we had little or nothing to gain by it. So whatever our critics may level at us, they cannot say that we did it for selfish, mercenary, or "vested" reasons.
Let me say "thank God for Eamon." He had the courage to stand up and fight against something that he saw (and that facts prove) to be wrong. Not many will take the time and trouble to do that. Now there are some of you -- especially some of the present members of SGG -- who in good faith take issue with some of the things that Eamon has alleged or insinuated in his "Ode to Reality" and who "hang in there" with Bp. Dolan and Fr. Cekada and give them "the benefit of the doubt," thinking them to be basically good men who are just "doing the wrong thing at times."
I am sorry to have to tell them that this is simply not true. There is enough real, proven evidence to the contrary -- without need of insinuation or conjecture. They are not unwittingly "misguided"; they know exactly what they are doing. To those folks at SGG who know better but who still keep fabricating excuses to defend or exonerate these men, I say again, "shame on you!" To the rest: wake up!! If you know that something is "rotten in Denmark," do something about it! Whether or not you think that what Eamon said or implied in his "Ode" was "appropriate," at least he took action; He did not sit on the sidelines in criminal silence, "aiding and abetting the enemy."
I have asked Eamon Shea to post this on the cathinfo.com website, since I am not a "cyber savvy" person. I hope that folks read this and are receptive to it. And if any of you has questions about what I've said (or what I wrote to Bp. Dolan), you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be glad to share with you whatever information that I have.