Cleansing Fire

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How Quickly Can Change Happen?

April 17th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

The following is a description of what Bishop Robert Finn accomplished in just his first week on the job as bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph (source).

Items colored in red are similar to issues in the Diocese of Rochester with their DoR counterpart in brackets “[ ]”.

Dismissed the chancellor, a layman with 21 years of experience in the diocese, and the vice chancellor, a religious woman [like Sr. Binsack] stationed in the diocese for nearly 40 years and the chief of pastoral planning for the diocese since 1990, and replaced them with a priest chancellor.

Cancelled the diocese’s nationally renowned lay formation programs and a master’s degree program in pastoral ministry [Like St. Bernard’s school of dissent].

Cut in half the budget of the Center for Pastoral Life and Ministry, effectively forcing the almost immediate resignation of half the seven-member team. Within 10 months all seven would be gone and the center shuttered. [We could definitely use a reduction in lay employees to lower the cost of operating our parishes and diocesan administration]

Ordered a ‘zero-based study’ of adult catechesis in the diocese [Big problem here in Rochester with women’s ordination proponents and “Reiki Master-Teachers” imparting the Catholic faith to young and old alike]

Ordered the editor of the diocesan newspaper to immediately cease publishing columns by Notre Dame theologian Fr. Richard McBrien [Columns by this notorious dissenter appear regularly in our Catholic Courier].

Announced that he would review all front page stories, opinion pieces, columns and editorials before publication.

Finn upgraded a Latin Mass community, which has been meeting in a city parish, to a parish in its own right and appointed himself pastor [We do not have a Latin Mass parish in the DoR, but a Latin Mass community that worships at St. Stanislaus church. As a result of sharing the church, the community is forced to worship at a less than desirable time of the day]…. Later, he asked the parish that the Latin Mass community will be leaving to donate $250,000 of the estimated $1.5 million the Latin group needs to renovate the old church Finn gave them.

I don’t want to set anyone up for disappointment if things don’t change the second our new bishop arrives, but there is hope and a precedent for a quick turnaround to take place in the Diocese of Rochester.

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36 Responses to “How Quickly Can Change Happen?”

  1. avatar bob says:

    HOPE springs eternal

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    From your mouth to God’s ears!

  3. avatar Anonymous says:

    Just hope the new bishop is not a “clone” of the bishop of Syracuse.

  4. avatar Anonymous says:

    St. Stanislaus Polish Church? I thought it was St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. Is that like St. Michael’s Puerto Rican Church on Clinton Avenue? Or how about St. Helen’s Vietnamese Church? St. Stanislaus Kostka Church holds three Masses every weekend (not including the Latin Mass), and two are in English and only ONE is in Polish. Why you would phrase it the way you did baffles me.

  5. Here in Cincinnati under Archbishop Schnurr, the pace of change has been gradual but decided: the seminary is now run by a triumvirate of young, dynamically orthodox priests; a Latin Mass parish was established in Dayton and another one is approved for Cincinnati; and a high school religious ed curriculum is in the hands of a group of able priests. Could His Excellency step up the pace? Yes, and it would probably be to the benefit of his flock and his mental health. But an incremental approach can yield results.

  6. avatar Anonymous says:

    I want Perry…

  7. avatar anony says:

    A new Bishop kicking butt. My kind of guy.

  8. avatar Cindy says:

    I think I need to move to Kansas City. I will be praying that we get a Bishop with that kind of passion and energy.

  9. avatar bob says:

    do we know why the previous bishop resigned

  10. avatar Bernie says:

    “St. Stanislaus Polish Church? I thought it was St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.”

    St. Stanislaus Kostka was my wife’s (she’s Polish) church and grade school. We were maried there. It originally served a Polish community. Those of us who go back a ways still think of St. Stanislaus as “Polish.” I think most of the Polish priests coming to the USA got there start at St. Stan’s. For a long time I thought “Kostka’ meant Polish! Ha, ha.

    I still think of St. Michael’s as the German church and Our Lady of Victory as the “little French church.” It’s not baffling to me

  11. avatar Thinkling says:

    I loved this combox gem: “Jimmy, would cloning be morally acceptable in this instance?”

    Does anyone know who the “John Kasaian” who pleaded for Rochester is?

  12. avatar Anonymous says:

    You probably won’t find no more than 10 Germans attending St. Michael’s.

  13. avatar Dr. K says:

    St. Stanislaus has been called “St. Stanislaus Polish church.”

  14. avatar Louis E. says:

    Note that Bishop Finn had spent over a year as coadjutor before succeeding as ordinary.He did not simply parachute in and start heads rolling without having had time to get ready…if the next bishop does not get named as coadjutor first he will have to spend time getting ready for the changes he wants to make.

  15. avatar MD says:

    St Michael WAS a German church when it was built. The neighborhood changed, and now it’s 90 percent Hispanic. OLV was a French church. Now it’s the home of exiles. There’s nothing insensitive about acknowledging the roots of a parish.

  16. avatar La Sandia says:

    I think what we need is an Opus Dei bishop, like Finn or Gomez. Not only will that drive the liberals absolutely batty, but Opus Dei actually embodies what Vatican II *really* said concerning the vocation of the laity–and no, it doesn’t mean clericalizing lay people and emasculating priests.

  17. avatar annonymouse says:

    I hope that the new bishop will realize that “progressive” Catholics are Catholics too. Unlike many who have posted, in effect hoping that any new bishop “kicks butt,” I hope the new bishop will move a bit more slowly and make all decisions with charity, as the bishop is shepherd of ALL the sheep of his flock.

    It would seem that many here are hell-bent on revenge (my inference) in a spirit of triumphalism, and I think an incremental approach will, in the long run, be more effective.

  18. avatar Bill B. says:

    annonymouse: Thanks for that last post (9:23) I have had that feeling sometimes. That is why we are human, I guess thatis why we (even as Americans) shoot first then ask questions or take names.

  19. avatar Rain says:

    Maybe the ‘progressive’ Catholics can expect the same treatment everyone else has been at the receiving end of for the last few decades. Maybe not. If they do, they will have to accept it and adjust in a way they expected it of everyone else. There would be many who could empathize with them. Probably much more if you include those who would be drawn back to the Church after this fiasco.

  20. avatar Starboard says:

    Dr. K, don’t worry about setting me up for any future dissapointment. Thanks for the post.

  21. avatar Anonymous says:

    You all are more concerned about semantics and tradition rather than the here and now– Why arent we talking about how new bishop can better relate to the people of rochester, bring christ to everyone, and evangelize to all– not just coddle a few people who cant get out of the 1940’s and want the latin mass back etc et al.

    Get real friends— view the church as it is, not what it was; or what you want it to be.

  22. avatar Gilbert says:

    What it is, and always has been, is the Body of Christ… In that respect “then and now” is irrelevant. Conduct in continuity with Sacred Tradition is what is needed, not the pattern of rupture that the diocese has had to deal with for so long.

  23. avatar Dr. K says:

    Why arent we talking about how new bishop can better relate to the people of rochester, bring christ to everyone, and evangelize to all– not just coddle a few people who cant get out of the 1940?s and want the latin mass back etc et al.

    We need a bishop who is as far away from Bishop Clark as possible, unless of course you’re fine with Mass attendance dropping 4% each year in the Diocese of Rochester. We have already experienced the kind of bishop you describe in the form of Clark and Hogan, and both instances of the “pastoral” bishop have been abysmal failures. It is time for a bishop who will defend the teachings of the Church, demonstrate respect instead of disdain for Catholic tradition, and who will preach the Gospel fearlessly without watering down its message to satisfy itchy ears (for example, on topics such as homosexuality).

    To turn your words back on you, we don’t need a bishop to coddle a few people who can’t get out of the 1970s.

  24. avatar Eliza10 says:

    I was at St. Timothy’s Church in Phoenix this year and many changes have been made since Father Dale left, and with Bishop Olmsted is in charge of the diocese. My family members liked Father Dale and his progressive ways, which were what they were used to. However, they are adjusting fine to the new changes.

    They still have Crowded Sanctuary Syndrome, which is the longstanding well-loved local parish tradition there, but there is a lot more reverence in the Mass, most everyone reverently kneels (even though there are no kneelers and you are kneeling “downhill”) and the Tabernacle has been moved back front and center with other wonderful changes, such as a reverently celebrated Mass and a relevant homily that revealed that priest’s holy life and thought.

    In my short visit, and from seeing it before, and from talking to my family and their friends who are longtime members there, it seems that changes were imposed but that they are being shepherded though the changes – that the priest and the bishop are taking care not to impose too much change on them at once. I thought keeping the crowd of Extrodinary Eucharistic Ministers for now but training them thoroughly in reverence (I know that this has happened there) was a wise way to move in the right direction without shocking people with too much change at once.

    So I agree with Anonymous 9:23 that the new Bishop [who, with God’s grace, I hope will be like Bishop Finn] needs to be a loving Shepherd who sees that progressive Catholics are Catholics too and ushers in changes with sensitivity, focusing on whats essential first, and not pushing other changes too quickly — even if they are righteous changes, as people who have grown up with progressive traditions may have become attached to them and that needs to be dealt with sensitively.

    A local example I can think of is hand-holding during the Our Father. I’d like it to be done away with eventually myself, and I appreciate not having my hand grabbed at Our Lady of Victory like it has been at other parishes. But I also respect that others have become used to this after this was imposed on them by the DOR, and have grown to like it. So this is not the most important place to start their formation that they have missed all these years. However, a new bishop could require that all priests make it clear in their parishes that hand-holding is OPTIONAL and to respect differences. This would be a step of improvement over, for example, priests who say “lets all join hands”.

    Its respectful to work with people where they are, and not expect instant changes, and its shepherd-like to explain changes imposed and give people time to get used to them, and a good shepherd should be sensitive to people’s concerns and complaints about changes he is imposing, and pace his changes accordingly wherever possible. It seems to me Bishop Olmsted is doing this, from what I saw.

    And there is so much a new Bishop can do that Progressive Catholics (except the present DOR elite) as well as regular Catholics should all be happy with, like: transparency with where our money goes, like the end of wreckovations and the allowance of individually-funded, TRULY parish-approved wrecko-reparations. Like allowing parishes to support their own Catholic schools if they can. Allowing parishes to thrive if they can on their own. Etc.

  25. avatar MD says:

    In order to be truly Catholic, one needs not only to be in communion with the whole Church throughout the world, but also, with the Church throughout the ages, with the Church suffering and the Church triumphant. I think it’s clear that Bp. Clark’s beliefs are highly heterodox, when viewed through this lens.

  26. avatar Eliza10 says:

    I don’t know where to post this comment even though its off-topic.. But I got to thinking about Church Closings, and St. Thomas. the Apostle. That’s a pretty nice piece of real estate in Irondequoit. Maybe that’s why it was closed. I see in the paper today there is a lot of contention in Irondequoit because residents don’t want an assisted living complex crowded into a smallish vacant lot in their residential neighborhood. Last year the town was trying to take away the charming senior citizen’s rec center located residentially and put it in an abandonned desolate-looking blacktoped plaza building on Ridge Rd. It seems that the limited residential land in West Irondequoit is very coveted. The St Thomas location is lovelier than the Christ the King location. Perhaps the DOR was hoping to sell it off to make big money from eager developers (money we will never get to know of and never gt to know how it is spent), and that was the real motivation.

  27. avatar Sun says:

    Some things have that timeless beauty.

  28. avatar annonymouse says:

    MD, your post ignores that fact that the Church has, and does, change over the ages. It cannot be argued that the fathers of Vatican II meant to shake things up and change things. It can be argued that they did not intend any “fractures” with prior tradition (as Benedict has argued) although certain teachings appear to be deep fractures with the past, indeed (teachings pertaining to the salvation of non-Catholics, for instance).

  29. avatar Anonymous says:

    Can a Third Vatican Council be in the works soon?

  30. avatar Anonymous says:

    We don’t need a third Vatican Council. We just need to reread the second Vatican Council documents and then do it right!

  31. avatar Scott W. says:

    We need a bishop who is as far away from Bishop Clark as possible, unless of course you’re fine with Mass attendance dropping 4% each year in the Diocese of Rochester.

    I think it was either here or at Ten Reasons that pointed out that the average attendence overall in America was 35%. That’s middle-of-the-road parishes that haven’t materially adopted a policy of scorched earth. Meanwhile, the Diocese of Lincoln chugs along at 65%. Build it and they will come as they say. Unfortunately, many won’t build it because that would mean admitting that adventures in heterodoxy stink. It reminds me a bit about what Michael Medved said about Hollywood: they were willing to let films tank as long as they could mock middle-American values.

  32. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    great find, DrK!

    I hope that the new bishop will realize that “progressive” Catholics are Catholics too.

    Premise accepted, but they don’t need to hold positions of prominence in which they promote ideas that are in stark contrast to Catholicism.

    I hope the new bishop will … make all decisions with charity

    Premise accepted.

    It would seem that many here are hell-bent on revenge (my inference) in a spirit of triumphalism, and I think an incremental approach will, in the long run, be more effective.

    personal foul.

    Why arent we talking about how new bishop can better relate to the people of rochester, bring christ to everyone, and evangelize to all

    I believe that claim actually supports my objections

    not just coddle a few people who cant get out of the 1940?s

    straw man

    Get real friends— view the church as it is, not what it was; or what you want it to be.

    Can you state that claim more concisely?


    credit: first things

  33. avatar Dr. K says:

    Love the ref signals.

  34. avatar Scott W. says:

    Love the ref signals.

    Ditto. Shamelessly knicking for my blog.

  35. avatar Liberius says:

    Hey, you all might just get Finn as your new Bishop. All the trouble that he’s in….I wouldn’t be surprised if he rode out of town after dark.

  36. avatar Dr. K says:

    Regarding Bishop Finn:

    It is my understanding that he handled the situation to the best of his ability. There were some suspicions from parents about the priest, but there were no reports of the priest having done anything sexual to a child. When it was discovered that he had several images of children on his computer, the diocese ordered him not to have contact with children. About 6 months later, it was discovered that he had child pornography. The diocese acted appropriately.


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