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We have received many phone calls and letters here at The Fatima Crusader pleading for Father Gruner to speak out about the claim that he is "suspended" from the sacred priesthood. Even parish bulletins are proclaiming Father Gruner’s "suspension" — in the same dioceses where priests who molest children or preach heresy retain their good standing! It seems that certain members of the Vatican apparatus want every corner of the Catholic world to believe that a faithful priest who has kept his vows and kept the faith has been "suspended," while true enemies of the Church everywhere escape all punishment and are even rewarded for their misdeeds.
I applaud and encourage those of you who have seen through the facade of a "suspension" for which no reason has been given. We are grateful that you have requested information so that you can defend Father Gruner against this effort to destroy his good name with the aim of destroying the credibility of the Message of Fatima itself.
The Fatima Crusader has interviewed Father Gruner so that you can hear his side of the story first-hand. We hope this interview will help you answer Father Gruner’s detractors.
We pray for you, and may God and Our Lady bless you!
Father Gruner, for years now there has been a campaign to try to paint you as a "suspended" priest. Are you in fact suspended?
No! In brief, to answer your question, I am not suspended. I have never been suspended.
I am, and have been, a Catholic priest in good standing for over 25 years. But according to at least one report I have seen, I have been "suspended" since 1996. That is a very curious claim, considering that the Pope’s personal secretary, Bishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, who has been personally serving His Holiness loyally for more than 25 years, wrote to me a very warm letter on August 24, 2001, extending his personal blessing and prayers for the success of the apostolate’s Fatima conference in Rome to be held in October 2001, which I chaired. The Pope’s personal secretary (who has spoken with me on the phone) would hardly write such a letter if I had been "suspended" for the past five years. And God bless him for sending that letter when he did.
But what do you say about the Vatican Press Office announcement that you have been suspended by the Bishop of Avellino since 1996 — a notice signed by Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos and Archbishop Csaba Ternyak of the Congregation for the Clergy?
The Pope's personal secretary of 25 years extends his personal blessing on the Apostolate's Fatima Conference. (See the English translation below.)
You’re referring to the announcement on September 12, 2001 — only one day after the terrorist attacks on America. This notice was, it claims, issued by "mandate of a higher authority" who is not even named. At any rate, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos and Archbishop Ternyak may say I am suspended, but they have never said that to me directly since last May, when I replied to their claim that I was "suspended." They have never — I repeat — never, replied directly to me in any way whatsoever. Who suspended me? And for what reason? Church law requires this information to be provided.
What did your reply say?
The only supposed basis for my "suspension" is that I "failed" to find another bishop to incardinate me outside Avellino, and as a result of that failure they say I must now obey the order to return to Avellino as a permanent resident. Among many other things, my reply noted, first of all, that I could not be suspended for "failing" to find another bishop when it was members of the Congregation for the Clergy, acting under orders from the Secretary of State, who blocked offers of incardination by at least three other bishops, and then ordered the Bishop of Avellino not to let me transfer.
|Father Gruner enrolling New York City police officers in the Brown Scapular at Ground Zero.|
How can a priest be punished for failing to do something his own accusers prevented him from doing? The law of the Church is more merciful than my accusers. [Can. 1321] The law of the Church says that no one can be punished for not doing the impossible. My accusers made it impossible for me to transfer out of Avellino. They can hardly punish me for not doing what they have made impossible for me to do.
Secondly, my reply also noted that despite the interference of my accusers, the Archbishop of Hyderabad went ahead and issued a decree incardinating me, noting in his decree that "evil forces have conspired to destroy your work of love." He is right. The Archbishop later affirmed this decree despite all attempts to browbeat him into retracting it. My accusers have no answer to this incardination in Hyderabad; they simply pretend it does not exist, so they can claim that I "failed" to find another bishop and must "return" to Avellino. Moreover, since I am incardinated in another diocese, the Bishop of Avellino, Bishop Forte, has no jurisdiction over me. Therefore, Bishop Forte’s order cannot be grounds for suspending me.
Thirdly, my reply noted that as a 59-year-old priest with no entry visa, I cannot be ordered to "return" to Avellino and live there as an illegal alien. The law of the Church recognizes and follows civil immigration law. Canon 22 orders me to obey Italian civil law in all matters concerning taking up permanent residence in Italy, and Italian law says I cannot go until the bishop provides me with certain written guarantees, including his promise of financial support, medical coverage, and a pension plan. Thus, only the Bishop of Avellino could provide me with the appropriate documentation for the Italian civil officials.
But in the 23 years I have been outside Avellino, the Bishop of Avellino has taken no steps to provide these written guarantees as required by Italian law for applying for a permanent resident visa. Without these written guarantees, I cannot obtain permission from the Italian civil officials to reside permanently in Italy — therefore, the order to return to Avellino (i.e. immigrate to Italy) is impossible to obey. Since it is impossible to obey, I cannot be suspended for not obeying. Furthermore, the Bishop has not supported me financially in any way. Why? Because he himself has no desire that I "return" to Avellino.
I have been making these fundamental points in successive filings for years, which I can prove the Vatican has received but I still do not have any answers.
My accusers’ answer to these three fundamental points is total silence.
Have you actually told them that you are not suspended?
Yes, I have! I have spent countless hours writing to them over the years. They acknowledge receiving my letters but they either do not understand or they are acting against me out of malice or weakness. The announcement of my "suspension" on September 12 — again, let me point out their accusation is manifestly without foundation and they didn’t even attempt to give a reason for it either — simply ignores my last letters to them, detailing the fundamental flaws in their case against me, which I have just mentioned. I am waiting for over one year for Bishop Forte to reply to me; I am waiting since the end of May for Archbishop Ternyak and Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos to reply to my letter to them.
All I received from the latter two officials was a short acknowledgment that they got my letter but no reply whatsoever to the substance of my rebuttal, nor any reply to the respectful, clear, well-reasoned and factual 70-page legal document my lawyer enclosed along with my 4-page letter. Resounding silence is the only answer.
Obviously, the onus is not on me to write again. They are attacking me in public and leave me no choice but to defend myself in public, as the law of God provides. I suppose I could send them an Italian translation of this interview (once you publish it), but I suspect this too would be disregarded, along with all my previous correspondence and requests for clarification.
I have already spent too much time, and many hundreds of typewritten pages of very proper, clear, concise and complete rebuttals to the falsehoods, half-truths and trumped up accusations they have thrown at me over the years — none of which, by the way, were mentioned in the September 12 announcement.
Why do you suggest it may be weakness that causes them to wrongfully condemn you?
Well, Cardinal Hoyos and Archbishop Ternyak both claim that there is "a higher authority" that told them to publish their false statement regarding my priestly status. This so-called "higher authority" they are very careful not to identify. So apparently they did not condemn me publicly on their own. Someone who wishes to remain anonymous ordered them to do it.
Who, then, is commanding them to do this?
It would appear to be the Vatican Secretary of State. The term "a higher authority" is a Vatican code term to indicate to insiders that it is the present Secretary of State Cardinal Sodano. The Bishop of Avellino told me in writing back in 1989, it was "worried signals from the Vatican Secretary of State" which were pressuring him to take some action against me, even though I had done nothing wrong. But whoever you might think is behind this, that person is telling my public accusers not to identify him.
So you are convinced the "higher authority" they are referring to is not the Pope?
Priests and bishops who habitually read documents from the Vatican know it is not the Pope. As Father Paul Kramer, who lived for years in Rome, has recently explained:
"This term ‘a higher authority’ does not mean the Pope. It is not the Pope because normally the standard phraseology in Curial documents would say ‘by order of the Supreme Pontiff’ or a similar phrase which clearly indicates that it is the Pope and only the Pope. The phrase ‘a higher authority’ is never used to indicate the Pope."
How could it possibly mean the Pope? The Pope’s personal secretary would not be sending me warm expressions of support if the Pope himself wished to declare me "suspended." It’s simply not logical. It is clear from this fact alone that the Pope is not the one directing Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos. You can read the letter from Bishop Dziwisz for yourself. (Editor’s Note: see the photographic reproduction of the original letter and the English translation)
This has to be the first time in Church history that the suspension of a priest for no stated reason is announced to the whole Church by order of a "higher authority" with no name.
Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos and Archbishop Ternyak refer to a definitive judgment of the Apostolic Signatura. What do you reply to that statement?
Quite simply, both Catholic moral teaching and the law of the Church say that no one can be punished if he has not actually done something wrong. A priest cannot be declared "suspended" for no reason — no matter what some official or officials at the Apostolic Signatura are reported to have said. Even if they actually said it and even if they call it a "definitive judgment," that statement means nothing.
In brief, my reply is a categorical denial of the "definitive sentence" of the Apostolic Signatura. I am a Catholic priest in good standing before God and men. I am not suspended ‘a divinis’. Since some people who write me are confused about the meaning of these terms, let me explain. A suspension ‘a divinis’ is a punishment that can only be inflicted for certain real infraction(s). The penalty suspension — or its full name, suspension ‘a divinis’ — prohibits a Catholic priest from performing certain priestly functions.
I have never been suspended ‘a divinis’. As I have just explained, there is no basis for any suspension other than a "failure" to do something my accusers themselves prevented me from doing. I have committed no offense against faith or morals, nor violated any law of the Church nor have I disobeyed any legitimate precept. If I had, the September 12th announcement would have specified the offenses I am supposed to have committed. There are none.
Have you been informed of the so-called definitive judgment of the Signatura?
No, they have never given me any official "in due form" document that tells me what the Signatura is reported to have said. This is ironic, considering they are such sticklers for proper form when it comes to my side of the case. For example, they held me to a strict deadline on one occasion when (through the fault of one of their own court-approved lawyers that I was forced by the Signatura’s rules to hire) I was some days late filing my claim. They rejected my response because I had not kept their man-made deadline even though it was, in effect, the court’s fault, certainly not mine.
You can understand then why I, too, have a right to insist they stick to the rules that they themselves set. They cannot change their rules midstream just to suit my persecutors. And even more so, I must uphold the law of God, even if others do not.
What brief final statement can you make to answer your accusers?
I am a priest of the Diocese of Hyderabad since 1996 and I am subject to that bishop ONLY! That settles the question. But my incardination is ignored by my accusers. However, if I were not incardinated in Hyderabad but incardinated in Avellino, the facts and the law are absolutely clear that it is legally impossible under the present circumstances for me to move to Italy. No one disputes this — not Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, not Archbishop Ternyak, not the Apostolic Signatura, not Cardinal Sodano, not Bishop Forte, not even the Pope. No one disputes these facts.
As I have stated earlier, the law of the Church provides, as does the law of God, that no one is held to do the impossible. Therefore, since it is impossible to obey, I cannot be suspended for not obeying.
Father, we’ve had many letters of support from our readers since September 12. However, with more than one-million people reading The Fatima Crusader, it is understandable that some have written in to ask the question: Why do you continue to speak up about this — why not just bear it all in silence?
Personally, I could ignore these attacks but it is my duty to defend the apostolate, which is really the target of these attacks. I simply cannot allow them to silence our communication of those things the Mother of God confided to the whole Church — an urgent message for the world. The Fatima Message is the only way to bring peace to the world and is most urgent — especially now, as we all can see that Ground Zero in New York may be the beginning of what could turn out to be the start of World War III and the predicted "annihilation of various nations" Our Lady of Fatima warned us about.
It is my duty to speak up. If I could do just what pleased me, I would be very happy to maintain my silence. However, the lives of many millions of people are at stake. Various nations will be annihilated if Our Lady’s requests are not heeded in time. Time is running out — the salvation of millions of souls hangs in the balance. The truth will set us free, but silence on my part could cause the enslavement of you, your readers and all their loved ones. I cannot remain silent. If no one listens and obeys Our Lady of Fatima in time, entire nations will certainly be annihilated and the whole world enslaved, but at least I can die with a clear conscience.
Thank you, Father Gruner, for clearing up these matters.
Editor’s Note: Throughout history those who wished to silence a message have sought to kill the messenger — if not literally, then by character assassination. We pray for Father Gruner, and we ask all our readers to join us in praying a Rosary for the intention that Father Gruner continues to stand firm as he leads this apostolate, under Our Lady’s mantle, to peace of heart, peace of soul, peace in our countries and peace in the whole world.
If you have any further questions for Father Gruner about this matter, please send them to the attention of the Editor. Copies of documentation noted in this interview, including the letter from the Pope’s personal secretary, are available upon request with a self-addressed stamped envelope. Call us or fax us or write to the editor of The Fatima Crusader at one of the addresses below or e-mail us at email@example.com or visit other sections of this website where some of the documentation is already available.
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