Howard Lincoln of the Sacred Heart deserves better from the Catholic Diocese

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Last Sunday, during mass at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Palm Desert, I discovered why the seats are called “benches”: it is because of the stench that emanates from the Diocese of San Bernardino.

The only shocking and offensive thing about the latest announcement at the Church of the Sacred Heart is the atrocious behavior of Pastor Gregory Elder and the Diocese of San Bernardino being exposed to the public. They made a vindictive effort to sully the reputation of Bishop Howard Lincoln, denying any knowledge of Lincoln’s intentions to marry after his retirement.

Elder’s 9:30 a.m. mass was a bombastic and obnoxious dumpster fire, without even a hint of humility – Lincoln’s antithesis.

He began Mass by reading his ghastly letter aloud, like a resentful boy eager to chat with his sister, but no one was impressed by his petty personal attacks on Lincoln. At one point Elder mentioned how he would stay with tradition at the Sacred Heart, with the caveat that he would not conduct masses with “clowns and balloons,” another personal dig in Lincoln.

Lincoln made an incredible connection with the Children of the Sacred Heart, keeping them engaged. Sure, some of his methods might have been unconventional, but they worked and it brought joy to everyone … well, maybe not Elder and the diocese, but I’m sure their bruised egos will recover.

Elder ended his painfully boring rant against Lincoln by saying, “Never a dull moment in the Catholic Church, right?” at that very moment the crickets fell silent. But Gregory’s arrogance, vanity and lack of humility make him a sinking ship, and I fear the parish will sink with him.

It is disturbing how Elder and the Diocese both deny knowledge of Lincoln’s intentions, contrary to Lincoln’s claim that he informed them. Like most of the others, I have very little doubts about who is telling the truth in this matter.

Let’s be honest: everyone at the Sacred Heart understands that this is really jealousy and sour grapes on the part of the diocese and some members of the clergy. You see, Lincoln achieved rock star status in the Catholic community on his own merit because of who he is, and that made some people resentful.

Lincoln is a kind, compassionate, and sincere soul with a true gift for pleasing young and old, rich and poor, and he brought more people to church on Sunday than any other priest in the history of the church. The kids absolutely love it. His creative homilies are powerful and inspiring. Very few Catholic priests are good enough to make people want to come to church, but Lincoln has this gift and his attendance numbers don’t lie.

And if the diocese isn’t wise and doesn’t learn from Lincoln’s successes, then they’re doomed to stay out of touch with everyone else. No wonder Catholicism comes under repeated attack when a few bad actors stray from the very teachings they preach to others.

Lincoln married my wife and I several years ago, baptized our children and blessed them with the sacrament of Holy Communion. For my part, I will not judge Lincoln who, in the twilight of his life, after years of living a Christ-centered life of incredible service, has now discovered love and joy.

May God bless Monsignor Howard Lincoln and his wife, and may this new chapter in their lives be filled with the grace of God and eternal blessings.

Jeff Geraci of Palm Desert has lived in the Coachella Valley for 45 years and is a parishioner at Church of the Sacred Heart.


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