Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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Catholic Chasm Again

November 1st, 2010, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

There is a lot of material for comment in the Polarization section over at the Catholic Courier. I, for one, applaud them for addressing the issue. I’ve only made it through one article so far as I couldn’t help but begin writing a reply. Look for more comments to come on this series. Let us also flood the CC with comments – not mean spirited, but rather with gratitude for acknowledging us while gently pointing out what we orthodox Catholics are truly about. To falter in Christian charity in an opportunity such as this would be tragic.

My comments in this post are in regards to the article “Is Catholic chasm growing?“, by Mike Latona which Dr. K has already posted about.  I have not included the entire article in this post – just enough to give context to my responses.

Where should the tabernacle be placed in church? Do you prefer receiving Communion on the tongue or in the hand? Would you rather receive from a priest, deacon or lay person, with or without the communal cup?

In what ways should women participate in the liturgy? Should Mass include hand-holding across the aisles, guitar music and dancers, or be solemn and feature traditional hymns?

To what degree should homosexuals, divorced people, those of other faiths, immigrants, ex-convicts and welfare recipients be accepted into the fold? What’s your position on birth control, priestly celibacy, the death penalty, euthanasia or health-care reform?

In all of these matters, a good Catholic should defer to the his mother, the Church.   My personal opinion does not matter.  To even entertain the idea that my personal opinion matters is where all of this goes wrong.  We should all be simply Catholic.  I think the “liberals” would be amazed how pleased as punch us “conservatives” would be if our local hierarchy simply followed Rome.  Present before us a good example in obedience and we in turn will be obedient to you.  The problem is the that we are forced into choosing between loyalty to DOR or loyalty to Rome (and 2000 years of Tradition).  The local hierarchy would be amazed how much loyalty they would get from DOR parishioners if they led by example in being loyal to Rome and their priestly vows of obedience.

And the differences become sharper when seeking to place blame for such present-day concerns as declines in Mass attendance and the number of available priests.

A valid point.  Everyone’s a Monday morning quarterback.  However, when it’s been proved over and over again that orthodoxy works and that progressive Catholicism leads to less Catholics, then you’d be a fool not to take note of that.

Though it’s difficult to measure whether such divisions are growing locally, Bishop Matthew H. Clark sensed enough polarization in the diocesan community to cite it as a leading impetus for the three-year diocesan spiritual renewal, Spirit Alive!, which ended in mid-2010.

hmmm – all this time I was trying to figure out what Spirit Alive! was.  Glad to know it’s finally been disclosed.

In a world increasingly dominated by talk media and Internet forums that encourage venting of religious and political opinions, the present-day pain and angst referenced by Bishop Clark is expressed more bluntly and regularly, according to Father Kevin McKenna.

Not sure if Cleansing Fire is included in what’s being referred to here, but let’s pretend for a moment that it is.  That’s a pretty big charge – “encourage venting of religious and political opinions”.  Let’s be sure to differentiate between blog posts and blog comments.  In blog posts, opinions are expressed from time to time, but overwhelmingly we defer to Church teaching – NOT our own opinions.  As far as blog comments go, for the most part we let people speak their minds.  Is that such a bad thing?  It doesn’t mean we encourage angst.  We encourage orthodox Catholicism – which brings true peace!  It should be noted that we do a fair amount of deleting blog comments and probably could do more (if we weren’t merely volunteers with other day jobs).  It should also be noted that we’ve witnessed liberal commenters disguising themselves as angry, over-the-top conservatives trying to give “conservatives” a bad name.

The tendency is to demonize people we don’t agree with or understand.

Don’t let them tell the wrong story about us.  This is very important that we don’t do this.

“Prior to that time … one either totally accepted Catholic dogma and tradition as a package deal or not at all. So it could not easily be said that before recent ecclesiastical developments any political mind-set in religious matters even existed.”
This hasn’t really changed except that Catholics have been fooled into believing they can identify themselves as Catholics in good standing while picking and choosing which parts of Catholicism they wish to believe.  True Christian charity wouldn’t smack them over the head but say something like, “look, I know you’ve veered away from Church teaching in this regard and that’s your choice, but you should know that it’s not inline with Church teaching.  This is why the Church teaches the way she does.  You are free to choose to believe something else, but you should know that you shouldn’t identify yourself as as Catholic in doing so.”

Meanwhile, he characterized a stereotypical “conservative” Catholic by actions and opinions that “demand strict adherence to the true faith,” often with a resistance to Vatican II initiatives.
whoa – slow down.  Let’s be very clear here.  It’s the “spirit of V2” that we have resistance to – not V2 itself.   It was the “liberals” who hijacked V2 and distorted it into something it was not.

“I can understand people who would describe me that way [as liberal],” said Bishop Clark, who is known locally and nationally for advocating such so-called liberal positions as defending the dignity of homosexuals and expanding women’s roles in the church.
Again – let’s be clear.  Rochester has a large homosexual population and all Catholics need to choose their words carefully when speaking on the topic.  We should be very supportive of those who struggle with same-sex attraction.  We should also be loving towards those who live the homosexual lifestyle.  The Church clearly teaches and supports the dignity of all persons – including homosexuals.  And the Church clearly sees a role for women in the Church – just not the same role as ordained men.  It’s a false dichotomy to say either-or here.  We must say both-and.  We believe (again as our Church does) in the dignity of homosexuals.  We believe in the role of women.  BUT we must be honest about God’s blueprint of human sexuality and we must be honest that women and men have different roles.  Again – don’t let them tell the wrong story.

“I don’t read the blogs in general, to be honest with you. From what I’ve heard, they’re inflammatory and one-sided,” he said.
Typical cop-out.
Inflammatory?  Sometimes speaking the Truth comes across that way.
One-sided?  Guilty as charged.  “As for more and my house, we will follow the Lord.”  I’ll take that side.
Was was that about demonizing the other side?  I believe we were just the victim of name-calling?  Were we just demonized?

Ideological extremism “lends itself to a bigotry quite often found in social and political systems, but no such taint should ever be allowed to mar our religious and ethical behaviors,” he [Father Hardon] wrote.
I don’t buy this logic.  It tends to follow the secular theory that being too into religion is dangerous.  You can play church on Sundays if you want, but don’t let it spill over beyond that.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with being ideologically extremely attached to orthodox Catholicism.  That’s the way the Saints lived their lives.  Obviously we must be careful to be docile and willing to give up those things that aren’t pivotal towards becoming saints (read von Hildebrand’s “Transformation in Christ“), but that doesn’t mean we should be less extreme about our ideals – it just means that we (as individuals) need to better understand our ideals.

Bishop Clark, meanwhile, remarked that he doesn’t seek “to form an ideological community, but a community of faith.”
This begs the question – faith in what?  His job (his vocation) is to seek to build a Roman Catholic community.  If he were truly interested in doing this, why does he continually buck Rome, Tradition, and traditions?  Just check out his book.

“We need to keep our biases and ideologies subordinate to the call of the Holy Spirit. There has to be the sense that there’s something greater than any ideology,” the bishop said.
Agreed!  And as Roman Catholics we believe the Holy Spirit speaks through our Holy Father and our capital-T Traditions.  Let’s work on learning and teaching those things instead of constantly searching for and interpreting mysterious truths hidden in our experiences.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CBsQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fallaciesandfashions.com%2F2010%2F05%2Fi-am-simply-catholic.html&ei=_27PTMaBLsaqlAeVoJTMBg&usg=AFQjCNHCLEdpZAsE7OKYOFS_QwWqDUe2Qw&sig2=tD0b2OMJzp_Jqh5Ttwv2Ug

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12 Responses to “Catholic Chasm Again”

  1. avatar Faithful says:

    In following Rome, there is room for diversity.

    For example: Rome does allow the option (albeit the non-preferable option) of placing the tabernacle off to the left or right. Thus, a priest who does this is not a dissadent priest, even though I myself believe the tabernacle ought to be in the center.

    Rome gives the option of Contemperary music. I hate folk masses and I hate guitars in Mass, but a priest who allows this is following Rome.

    Rome allows the option of not having a communion rail. A priest who takes out a communion rail might have no taste or understanding of traditional Church buildings, etc, but he is following Rome.

    Rome permits the use of women altar servers, and women in the sanctuary. Given your beautiful post on why this is not ideal, nevertheless a priest who allows women altar servers, etc, is following Rome.

    Thus, my question is: what from your view does it mean to be obedient to Rome? Does this mean bishops may only do exactly as Rome does in her masses in the Vatican? That parish Masses should essencially be like a minature Vatican? Or does it simply mean exercising only those options which Rome allows, even if some of them are not ideal or even in bad taste?

    I am not asking my questions to be a jerk, I really like your blog, and I think your articles are very well written and very well argued. I am asking my questions to learn.

  2. avatar Dr. K says:

    I don’t believe that any of the items you listed would qualify a priest as a “dissident” since they are all permitted by the Church.

    Examples of what is not permitted:
    -lay homilists
    -lay persons directing pastoral care
    -liturgical dancers (in the western world)
    -ceramic/glass Communion vessels
    -modifying words of the Mass on their own, adding/subtracting items to/from the Mass
    -preaching or promoting dissent from Church teachings
    etc.

  3. avatar benanderson says:

    Faithful, I am also learning in regards to the liturgy. Dr. K hit the biggies in that regard. My bigger beef is with Dr. K’s final point – dissent. Dissent in homilies – dissent in the Catholic Courier – silence on issues that must be taught clearly. Dissent from the “school” which trains our leaders:
    http://cleansingfire.org/2010/07/sr-pat-on-sexual-ethics-part-1/

    What dissent specifically am I referring to?

    – condoning the homosexual lifestyle
    – condoning other sexual sins (contraception, etc)
    – pushing the agenda of women’s ordination
    – a total disregard of tradition

  4. avatar Anonymous says:

    What is upsetting is that Bishop Clark is giving talks to the priests inthe Diocese of Syracuse. He gave a touchy=feely speach about his walk with Christ. What bunk.

    I think he is posturing himself for when he retires and hs can go to other dioceses to spread his heresy.

  5. avatar Dr. K says:

    You mean the 2012-2013 “Forward in Hope” book tour?

  6. avatar Scott W. says:

    -liturgical dancers (in the western world)

    And in the non-western world, the dancing is very limited and doesn’t resmeble the ludicrous prancing about like this at all.

  7. avatar Faithful says:

    Dr K,

    Fair enough. And you are absolutely right. I was simply asking you to be more specific in what you meant by “following Rome” and you were.

    It is clear then, that obedience to Rome does not necessarily garuntee that evey parish will have Liturgies celebrated in good taste, or Church’s with fine art, etc. It does not imply that priests will always choose the preferable option when they have an option.

    In my own Diocese many of the priests are not changing anything except what is required of the new translation. Thus, they will still have their folk groups humming and strumming away as though we are all getting ready for January 1, 1971. They will still have their Piano players banging away on the Piano or worse yet- the keyboard- as though it will perpetually be the year 1971. They will still be using Haugen/Dass Mass parts which have been rewritten to accomodate the new translation (which is contrived if you ask me) In short, the new translation will not clean up the sloppiness and the bad taste in Liturgy, all it will do is clean up the translations! Everything else will be as sloppy and in poor taste as it ever has been!

    My point: Despite it all, the priests are obedient Son’s of Rome, therefore we can criticize them for taste, judgement, etc, but not for dissadence. We cannot call into question their loyality to the Church itself, nor call them “not Catholic” etc. And we must be obedience if we happen to be their parishoners. Rome does not tell us to obey our priests only when we agree with their taste and judgement when it comes to the options at Mass. Rome tells us we must be obedient to our priests always- the only exception being when they direclty violate Church teaching in what they are asking. In THAT case, WE say “Father I cannot do what you are asking, for it goes againt the proper rubrics, etc. If you want to do it, that is on your conscience, but I will not.”

  8. avatar benanderson says:

    @Faithful, we’re on the same page as you. I agree that although we may not like the way a priest celebrates mass, if he is w/in the rule of law, then we would most certainly not call him disobedient. What I meant by the term “not following Rome” is as you describe in your last paragraph.

    Again, my term “not following Rome” is in regards to things which are not optional:

    in the liturgy
    – lay homilies are forbidden
    – change words / adding words / removing words, etc. aka – tinkering with the mass

    priests are to be the head of parishes – not sacramental ministers or assisting priests who play second fiddle to a lay “pastoral administrator”.

    and again the doctrinal points:
    – the ONLY moral sexual act is between husband and wife and w/ no barriers
    – The homosexual agenda should not be pushed by the Catholic Church
    – only men can be priests.
    – hell is a real place and everyone of us could end up there

    Perhaps you don’t experience these things in your diocese, but we do here in Rochester, NY. They are presented boldy right in our face. Our bishop is aware of these things and endorses them.

  9. avatar Faithful says:

    I know you do in Rochester, and I am sorry for you. No doubt the next bishop is going to have one giant mess to clean up. I don’t envy him, and I thank God whoever it is, it won’t be me! Why has Rome allowed this stuff to go on as long as they have anyway? Would you say Rome shares some responsibility in this, since they have known about this, and done nothing about it?

    Lay administrators of parishes are permitted. They are not the ideal, but they are permitted. As long as the priest retains authority over the Spiritual formation of the parish, and the lay administrator worries about signing checks, paying bills, maintainting the property- like they are supposed to do, and not try to pretend they are the pastor, I think they can work (if they are a necessity.) The problem in your Diocese is not that there are lay administrators, it is that such a model is being pushed as the “new model” and desirable, rather then as a temperary solution and not ideal.

    I can’t say I have never experienced the things you talk about in my Diocese, but what I can say is that stuff like that is not the norm. My Diocese is center left, to be sure, but not radically so. But don’t be fooled- some of our priests are all gaga and googely eyed over the possibibility of lay run parishes. (Why are they so anxious to make themselves irrelavent?)

    Of course my response to them is “You have been pastor here for 25 years. You support lay administrators of parishes?” Priest: “Yes.” Response me: “Good, Father. Then why don’t YOU lead the way and SHOW us how wonderful this model YOU are espousing is. YOU resign YOUR pastorate and YOU be the first ‘Sacramental Minister’ in the Diocese. What better assignment then your former parish? YOU can be the shining example of how wonderful this ‘new’ model is.” I wonder when it is put like that, how many priests will support the model? Most of the priests who support the “new” way of ministry WON’T BE EFFECTED BY IT! Easy for them to support then, don’t you think?

  10. avatar benanderson says:

    As long as the priest retains authority over the Spiritual formation of the parish, and the lay administrator worries about signing checks, paying bills, maintainting the property- like they are supposed to do,

    right – but again, that’s not what we have here. We have lay people who are the main pastors – who are in charge of pastoral duties above the priest. There are priests who are not being used as pastors. The bishop will speak out of both sides of his mouth as to why we have this. When talking to libs, he says he’s expanding the role of women (psuedo-priests). When talking to people who don’t like it, he says its necessary because of the priest shortage.

  11. avatar Dr. K says:

    Take away Sr. Joan Sobala’s liturgical and pastoral functions, and she would quit her job in an instant! She and other Rochester lay administrators are not there for “administrative” or business purposes, but to play priest. What we have in the Diocese of Rochester is an attempt by diocesan officials to promote the “advancement of the laity,” something condemned by the Church (Click here, art. 4b).

    Being an administrator in the business sense does not entitle the lay person to deliver homilies, carry out Sacraments when a priest or deacon is available, or have pseudo-ordination installation rituals conducted by the diocesan bishop.

  12. avatar benanderson says:

    Would you say Rome shares some responsibility in this, since they have known about this, and done nothing about it?

    yes, but in a different capacity. It’s not like they’ve done something morally wrong, but it seems they’ve judged it best to let it runs its course. In hind sight, I don’t think they would’ve played their cards this way because by using this strategy its been absolutely disastrous to an enitre diocese. How many souls have been lost?


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