Cleansing Fire

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St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry: “one of the best in the country”?

August 20th, 2011, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

This morning I posted an article (on an unrelated topic) on LinkedIn, which posted to my twitter account, which posted to my facebook account.  That’s just the way of the Internet these days.  Layer upon layer upon layer.  Hang on tight as I’m about to weave together various articles that caught my fancy this week.  I think they all relate, but perhaps you’ll find yourself in disagreement.  I’ll start with a Fr. Z post, which links to an article by John Allen Jr in which he interviewed Capuchin Fr. Thomas Weinandy, executive director of the Secretariat for Doctrine at the U.S. bishops’ conference.  Here’s some snippets of what Fr. Weinandy had to say:

Theologians can be a “curse and affliction upon the church,” according to the U.S. bishops’ top official on doctrine, if their work is not grounded in church teaching and an active faith life, and ends up promoting “doctrinal and moral error.”  He warned of a “crisis” in Catholic theology, caused by theologians who “often appear to possess little reverence for the mysteries of the faith as traditionally understood and presently professed within the church.”

“Much of what passes for contemporary Catholic theology,” he said, “often is not founded upon an assent of faith in the divine deposit of revelation as proclaimed in the sacred scriptures and developed within the living doctrinal and moral tradition of the church.”

Instead, he said, much Catholic theology has become “an attempt by reason to pass judgment on the content of the faith as if it were of human origin,” with theologians as “judges who stand above the faith and arbitrate what is to be believed and what is not.”

That approach, Weinandy said, “sometimes undermines genuine faith within the body of Christ” and ends up leading people “into the darkness of error.” It also, he said, “inevitably produces fragmentation within the church.”

Weinandy acknowledged that over the centuries, the Catholic church has recognized different “schools” of theology.

Yet today, he said, “the church is experiencing not a debate among legitimate schools of theological thought, but a radical divide over the central tenets of the Catholic faith and the church’s fundamental moral tradition.”

“This is not simply an expression of a plurality of Catholic theologies,” Weinandy said, “but the very disintegration of the Catholic faith itself.”

Who exactly might he be referring to?  It sounds like he’s talking about real people in real institutions, rather than just some imaginary ones.  Could the Diocese of Rochester’s own School of Theology and Ministry, [side note: I find it interesting that one of the words in the flash montage on the home page is “Empowerment”] which educates most of our lay leaders and deacons, be guilty of this assessment?  I’m going to continue beating the same drum and bring up the Theology on Tap session I attended a year ago until I hear someone make a credible claim that this session was an anomaly and that St. Bernard’s staff usually stays within the bounds of Catholic doctrine.  I think it’s safe to say, though, that Sr. Pat’s comments were consistent with the type of  “education” that happens at St. Bernard’s as I’ve continually heard from people that it is typical of St. Bernard’s to challenge fundamentals of the faith and falsely present them as merely one “expression of a plurality of Catholic theologies”.

Given this context, I’d like to congratulate Deacon John Brasley as he begins a new leadership role as the diocesan director of deacon personnel and formation.  What really stuck out at me in the article was that Deacon Brasley directs the four-year deacon formation program through St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry, which he calls “one of the best in the country.”  I’ll admit ignorance on this program, although I’ve heard rumors that it is as radically progressive as the rest of St. Bernard’s.  I do pray that Deacon Brasley’s program is something other than the typical St. Bernard’s education, but I fear it is not and that the 100+ deacons at work in our diocese have been educated in a way that is less than ideal.   I hope that Deacon Brasley adheres to the orthodox faith, but I fear our new “diocesan director of deacon personnel and formation” does not.  Perhaps he can clear this up for us since he and his wife blog for the Catholic Courier.  The deacon’s praise reminded me of the time Fr. Holland called Bishop Clark the “best bishop in America” (no joke – he really did).

There is much that is troubling in Rochester and I really can’t fathom why, on the one hand, the official Church clearly teaches something other than what is taught here in Rochester, while on the other hand, she lets everything just continue on as is.  This makes it really difficult for a blog like ours to have any credibility.  They say, “If it’s such a big deal, then why doesn’t Rome do anything?”.  I honestly can’t answer that question.  Rome has clearly spoken, but it’s true that she has taken almost zero action (at least publicly – we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes).  Which also leads to the question, “You’re just some blogger [said with disgust] while these other people are accredited academics and actual members of the clergy.  Who are you to think you can even fathom the heights of their intellectual prowess and ecclesial authority?”  My answer leads me to what I truly love about the Internet.  I am a nobody.  I am a hack.  I wasn’t raised in the Catholic Church and I still have a lot to learn (having only converted 4 years ago).  But I fell in love with something beautiful, something intellectual, something mystical, something REAL.  This is why I sit at my computer and stay up late at night pounding on my keyboard.  Through the power of the Internet, I can read, link to, and directly quote what our Church teaches.  I don’t have to make arguments on my own authority.  I can stand on the shoulders of giants.  I can lay out arguments which stand or fall on their own merit.  If I have connected the dots incorrectly, then it should be easy for the progressives to deliver a knock-out blow and send our readers fleeing from such illogical posts as this one.  There are some who wish to disband the Catholic blogosphere rather than engage it.  They wish the Church would come out and tell everyone to knock if off and go back to their role of “pray, pay, and obey”.  To their chagrin, the Church has not done this.  Hopefull has already posted about the Church’s openness towards, and praise of, the Catholic blogosphere. And here today we have this from Archbishop Chaput at WYD (hat tip Papist):

So whom can you trust? Where can you go for reliable news and intelligent discussion about your Catholic faith?

Well, you can come to World Youth Day—but you’ve already done that. Luckily, you live in an age of radically new kinds of information media. You have more media choices, and more ways to access those choices, than I ever could have imagined at your age.

Many of those choices include outstanding Catholic media like Catholic News Agency, EWTN, the National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor; Salt and Light and Catholic News Service; plus Catholic blogs, websites, and Catholic satellite radio stations. Support these media and encourage their great work for the Church. Visit their websites. “Like” them on Facebook. Follow their Twitter feeds. These excellent media sources will nourish and deepen your faith in ways that the mainstream public media can never provide.

He must have forgotten the part about trusting your local heterodox School of Theology and Ministry.  Such a comment from such a prominent member of the hierarchy would have been unthinkable 10 or 15 years ago.  Obviously it would have been unthinkable since the Internet was still in it’s infancy (and probably still is), but also because EWTN was still somewhat taboo (just read Raymond Arroyo’s book on Mama Ang).  It was generally frowned upon at that time to present doctrines of the Catholic faith as facts that must be believed.

The dialogue that the progressives have been talking up for decades is manifest in a way that no one could have anticipated.  They should be basking in their glory right now if they were truly concerned about dialogue and authentic debate.  What’s really fascinating, though, is that the Catholic blogosphere is almost exclusively orthodox.  Where are the progressive bloggers?  They don’t exist.  They are sitting on the sidelines during the Super Bowl of all Super Bowls of true dialogue.  So why aren’t they playing the game?  It’s because their arguments don’t hold water and they know it.  I don’t mean to imply that they don’t believe in their mission.  But what they are coming to know more firmly (and don’t want everyone else to find out) is that their core beliefs are outside the boundaries of the Catholic faith.  They are free to believe what they wish to believe, but they are not free to label any old belief-system as Catholic.  When you clearly and articulately express what they believe, it is clear that it is truly a different religion (as Gretchen over at SavingOurParish so ably pointed out).  They have taken their hearts and their minds and left Catholicism, but their bodies remain in the Church.  Why?  This, as Fr. Z recently pointed out, could be summed up by the words of Saul Alinksy:

There’s another reason for working inside the system. Dostoevski said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution. To bring on this reformation requires that the organizer work inside the system

They* don’t want you to know what they really think.  They will push the boundaries only when they see an opportunity.  The last 30+ years in the Diocese of Rochester, they’ve had this opportunity.  Bit by bit, they’ve torn down the faith to the point where it is merely a remnant of what it once was.  I’m not only talking about physical buildings, although I do believe they are symbolic.  I’m mainly talking about the spirituality of the faithful.  What percentage of Catholics go to mass?  receive the Eucharist worthily?  believe all the truths which the holy catholic Church teaches?  can articulate these truths to a non-Catholic or non-Christian?  cares enough about their neighbor to reach out to those outside the flock?  The smart ones, though, are seeing their heyday come to an end.  It seems there are “some” in the diocese that are moving towards orthodoxy (if only in perception).  I truly pray that these are true conversions and that we continue to see more of them.  I hope and pray that they are not subversive attempts to re-position themselves within the system (which will be shaken up when our next bishop takes the reigns).

* – The “they” I refer to are the spiritual forces of darkness.  While many people allow these spiritual forces to work using their own hands, we must always remember that people are not our true enemies.  Demons are our enemies.  People are either lost or found.  Either way we must love them.  If they are lost, then we must love them back into the fold.  The Gospel is relevant to all peoples at all times (including progressives).

The only way they can hold on to the little they have left is by confusion and distortion.  This is why they don’t blog about their beliefs and instead spend their time talking about subjective experiences.  The other thing the Internet has done is to bring vast geographic locations together for common dialogue.  It can no longer be denied that the norm in the Diocese of Rochester would be considered radically progressive elsewhere.  It can no longer be denied that what is considered the far-right, conservative fringe here is actually just “simply Catholic” elsewhere.  Looking at the Church outside of Rochester, it really seems like things are headed in the right direction.  Will Rochester get there someday?  Let us hope and pray that we will.  Will a new bishop turn things around from day one?  Let us hope and pray that he will.  Let us not forget, though, that while some challenges may be removed others will present themselves.  This is to be expected for the Christian.  God asks us to give Him our best and to go to battle for Him while at the same time remain in His peace and never give up the hope and joy that is within us.

pax et bonum

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49 Responses to “St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry: “one of the best in the country”?”

  1. avatar Gretchen says:

    Wow. Just wow. You have said what is in my heart. Thanks for the shout-out.

    Gretchen from SOP

  2. avatar Rich Leonardi says:

    They say, “If it’s such a big deal, then why doesn’t Rome do anything?”. I honestly can’t answer that question.

    This is a variant of the logical fallacy “the argument from silence.” Just because it’s popular in Rochester (for understandable reasons) doesn’t make it any less fallacious. Why doesn’t Rome “do something”? For starters, the Church isn’t a corporation and the Pope isn’t its CEO. It’s a hierarchical body, which has implications for decision-making. Moreover, “Rome” is doing plenty. Clark is partly responsible for why we rarely see men under the age of fifty-five elevated to a large see. The risk of a bad appointment doing the sort of damage he has done over a long period is too great. And one of the reasons Bernardin-Jadot bishops are recognized as blots on the episcopacy is because of their contrast with their successors. It’s getting better in the Church and it will soon get much better in Rochester. Have faith, and pray for your next bishop; he’ll be starting over.

  3. avatar BigE says:

    1) So your assessment of St. Bernard’s is based on ONE Theology on Tap session you attended and heresay. Great. You do realize that theologians by their nature, are always exploring our faith. That means asking questions and pushing bounderies. That is what any academic institution should be about and that is how we continually gain new knowledge and insights. One can ask questions and push bounderies without being heretical.

    2) As one of the earliest theologians of our church noted: “If our faith…is such that it is destroyed by force of argument, then let it be destroyed; for it will have been proved that we do not possess the truth.” (Clement of Alexandria 200 ce)

  4. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    BigE, missed ya buddy!

    1) yes and I fully disclosed that. I am more than welcome for someone to share stories that show that my limited experience is an anomaly (as I said). I would love to be proven wrong. I will add, too, that it’s not like this one session contained a little slip up. It’s not like it was a trivia show and Sr. Pat just didn’t happen to know the answer. Instead you get a real taste of her epistemological understanding. Here’s an analogy. I am a software engineer. I know software pretty well. Imagine if I had to give a seminar to aspiring techies and at that seminar I explained how computers and technology are actually taking us back to the stone age. What if I said that what our understanding is based on is all mixed up. In reality all software boils down to 1s and 0s, but what if I said those things don’t actually exist? Giving such a lecture wouldn’t be a mere mistake on my part, but would instead expose me as a fraud. This is how I see the Sr. Pat lecture series.

    In regards to the limited information I have, here’s another story provided by Mike:
    http://cleansingfire.org/2011/04/the-church-the-women-and-the-bishop-want/

    If someone were up for doing a real, thorough investigation (similar to the apostolic visitation of the religious sisters in America), that’d be great. I think that would uncover a lot. I don’t have the ability to do that. I don’t have the time to enroll in courses and give a thorough report on what I find. I don’t think I have the spiritual stamina for it either. Does that mean I forfeit my right to speak up? I don’t think so. Anyways, there you have it.

    2) certainly theologians should explore, debate, and stretch their minds, but you’d agree there are limits right? There are certain things that are settled and not open for debate. That’s what we’re talking about here. That’s what Fr. Thomas Weinandy is talking about. Would you agree or do you think that everything is fair game in a Catholic context?

  5. avatar brother of penance says:

    The reference to Fr. Thomas Weinandy got me wondering where I had seen that name before.
    Yes,of course. Fr. Weinandy’s article WHY CATHOLICS FIND IT SO HARD TO EVANGELIZE appeared in the October, 1993 issue of NEW COVENANT. In his article, the author contends “the zeal to evangelize is found among those who truly know and experience the Gospel…..Heaven and hell are specifically at issue here. For Christians not to evangelize is the epitome of negligence and indifference toward others” So where is our
    Diocese’s sense of urgency? Where is our love that compels and demands we consciously and deliberately announce Christ the crucified and risen Savior? If Catholics have been lulled into false notions about heaven and hell, will there be much authentic evangelization and its fervor which is the Holy Spirit’s gift? Does our Diocese commission us, empower us and present us with Catholic opportunities to experience the mercful Lord, his forgiving grace and the inspiration to pray, struggle and persevere in bringing Jesus to others and others to Jesus? I will not comment on whether or not the four-year deacon formation program through St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry is “one of the best in the country.” Instead, I will testify that what Fr. Weinandy asserts is not evangelization is what SBI and the diaconal discernment/formation process did emphasize when I studied with them for four years. Fr. Weinandy insists that the message is the person of Jesus, not personal, private agendas “be it feminism (or) environmentalism, (or) popular psychology (or) church politics…..Evangelization is the vocal sharing of the Good News…..Only when Jesus comes alive in a person’s life will the truth of doctrine achieve its life-giving goal and a Christian moral life becomes feasible.” Neither at SBI nor during the deacon formation process, did I ever hear what Fr. Weinandy concludes is the most important reason for evangelizing. He writes, “In the end, the paramount reason for evangelizing is to give glory to Jesus. Even if no one is converted when the Gospel is proclaimed, Jesus is acclaimed for who He is and what He has done. This alone is reason enough to evangelize. In turn, His exaltation is our greatest glory. Bearing witness to Jesus Christ is our pre-eminent dignity; there is none greater.” Thank you, brother Ben, for bringing up Father Thomas Weinandy who reminds us what is really important. Unfortunately, he also reminds us what is so neglected in the Diocese of Rochester.

  6. avatar BigE says:

    @Ben,

    I missed you too! 🙂

    1) Exactly how is one supposed to “prove” that St. Bernard’s simply teaches people to think and explore issues within the confines of the Catholic faith? If you accept the anecdotal experiences of a few (who happen to think exactly as you), rather than opening yourself to other opinions and possibilities – then I would imagine such proof is impossible. In the vein of trying though, I will officially say, as someone who has taken a number of classes at St. Bernard’s, that I wholly disagree with your conclusions. And btw, if you don’t particuliarly like Sister’s Pat style or teaching – she is only ONE of a number of excellent professors/teachers and adjunct faculty at St. Bernard’s.

    2) Given that Sister Pat has an M.A. and Ph.D from Notre Dame in Moral Theology and that degrees are usually handed out only after competence in a subject matter is exhibited; I would assume that would go a long way in refuting your whole fraud analogy. That’s one of the purposes in Universities giving people degrees. To prove their competence in a subject matter.

    3) “Limits” is such a subjective word. I would certainly agree with you that there are limits – although I sense where you would want to draw the line vs where I would want to draw the line are very different. I’m just curious: what do consider in our faith NOT to be settled and thus open for debate? I would also point out that there is a difference betwen debate (where two sides have opposing views) versus exploration and stretching of minds, where there may be no difference in opinion, but one may simply want to understand either the historical/circumstances surrounding an issue or understand differing points of views and perspectives.

  7. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    in divine providence as we finished up lunch, my wife pulled out the kid’s Saints book and read about the Saint of the day – Bernard of Clairvaux!

  8. avatar Dr. K says:

    BigE — Nancy DeRycke, Barbara Swiecki, and Rosalie Muschal-Reinhardt are instructors at St. Bernard (see here). Also, dissenter Sr. Patricia Schoelles is president of the institution. In addition, a few area lay preachers are listed as instructors.

    Spend five minutes Googling the names listed above and you will see why all of them are unfit to teach Catholic theology.

    Let me help you get started in your research:
    Nancy DeRycke: http://www.ewtn.com/library/PROLIFE/FEMORDIN.TXT
    Barbara Swiecki: http://cleansingfire.org/2010/05/the-buck-stops-here/
    Rosalie Muschal-Reinhardt: http://www.womensordination.org/content/view/165/
    Sr. Patricia Schoelles: http://cleansingfire.org/2010/12/sr-pat-on-the-new-translation/

    I don’t believe for a second that these dissenters who are staying in the Church so as to change it from within are teaching faithful Catholic doctrine! Your suggesting otherwise, given the positions you frequently take in your posts here, does little to change my opinion.

  9. avatar brother of penance says:

    BigE’s comments and understanding of theology are interesting. However, I choose to avoid
    Dr. K’s approach of naming people and declaring them unfit to teach Catholic Theology. Whether or not I like or dislike, agree with or disagree with Nancy DeRycke,Barbara Swiecki,Rosalie Muschal-Reinhardt or Sr. Patricia Schoelles, it is not my competency to make those assertions. Perhaps the School’s Chancellor could clarify his position on their theological work. Moreover, there are Vatican/Curial Officials who have the competence to do that and have already, at least once, declared a Rochester Diocesan Priest unfit to teach theology in a Catholic university. Also a laicized former priest can no longer teach theology at St. Bernard’s. (Dr. K, I do intend, however, to review for my own sake the links you posted.) So, I suggest we leave declarations/judgments of that kind to those fit to decide who is or isn’t. Forgive me, BigE, for starting with an anecdotal experience. You will soon see how pertinent it is. The keynote speaker and honorary degree recipient at the 1992 Saint Bernard’s Commencement was Rosemary Radford Ruether. Far be it from me to object whom SBI chooses to invite to address the Institute’s graduates, faculty, families and friends. Yet, to my utter amazement, Ms. Rosemary Radford Ruether spent her entire talk telling the captive audience what was
    radically wrong with the Catholic Church, her teachings, her hierarchy, her organization. Because of all of these “injustices” our guest speaker decided not, I repeat, not to leave the Church on principle, but to remain and work to change the Church, her teachings, her hierarchy and her organization. When the Institute’s Chancellor stood up to speak, he did not refer at all to this scandalous speech. He did not politely explain that the speaker was entitled to her opinions and course of action but he respectfully disagreed and wholeheartedly supported the Catholic Church of which
    he is a BISHOP. Not a word. Not one word from the shepherd to the sheep who had just be ravaged by a woman whose hatred for Sacred Tradition shocked me

  10. avatar Mike says:

    BigE,

    Here’s some more SBSTM-related stuff for you to chew on …

    See here, here and, most enlightening of all, here.

  11. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Exactly how is one supposed to “prove” that St. Bernard’s simply teaches people to think and explore issues within the confines of the Catholic faith?

    I didn’t use the word prove did I? You are correct – you can’t prove it. But you could get a decent idea of whether it is pretty good or pretty bad.

    opening yourself to other opinions and possibilities

    perhaps you missed the part where I said I’m a new Catholic. I investigated several different world views before becoming Catholic. In my opinion, Catholicism is true. I’m as surprised as anyone that I’m came to that conclusion. But, that’s why I’m a Catholic. Loyalty to the tribe is not true Catholicism. Loyalty to Jesus Christ and His Church is.

    I will officially say, as someone who has taken a number of classes at St. Bernard’s, that I wholly disagree with your conclusions.

    Which conclusions are you disagreeing with? That it might not be the best in the country? Or that it is heterodox?

    It’s not that I don’t like Sr. Pat’s teaching style. It’s that I don’t like her claiming that her teaching is compliant with Catholicism. That’s my beef. That’s what I meant by fraud (admittedly not a good term to use here). I’m not saying she isn’t intelligent (although I don’t automatically grant people superiority of intellect simply because of their degrees). I’m saying that some of her teaching isn’t in line with Catholic teaching.

    I would certainly agree with you that there are limits – although I sense where you would want to draw the line vs where I would want to draw the line are very different.

    Let me ask you a couple:
    Do you consider the Bible to be the infallible word of God?
    Do you consider the Magisterium to speak infallibly on the word (Tradition and scripture) of God?

    I’m just curious: what do consider in our faith NOT to be settled and thus open for debate?

    geez, I don’t know. There’s a whole slew of them. Did Mary die? Did she have labor pains? Who wrote the book of Hebrews? Did the John the Evangelist write the book of Revalation? Is purgatory a place and time?

  12. avatar Dr. K says:

    Just curious… does the St. Bernard library contain any books written by Fr. Charles Curran?

  13. avatar Dr. K says:

    “Whether or not I like or dislike, agree with or disagree with Nancy DeRycke,Barbara Swiecki,Rosalie Muschal-Reinhardt or Sr. Patricia Schoelles, it is not my competency to make those assertions. ”

    They have proven this unsuitability themselves with their frequent public support for women’s ordination. This is particularly the case with Nancy and Rosalie. The ordination of men alone to the priesthood, as we should all know by now, is a teaching that is to be definitively held by all the faithful.

  14. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    you might say you can never prove any person to be fit (are any of us really worthy to Christ’s disciples?) because you never know 100% what they might teach, but perhaps you could prove them to be unfit if they don’t accept the teachings of the Church and have used their positions to publicly express those opinions. How’s that?

  15. avatar brother of penance says:

    BigE, I readily admit that Graduate Schools of Theology are not in the business of teaching catechetics or doing catechesis per se. It is a school of theology which, among other professional preparation, prepares catechists for their ministry. One would expect the professors to respect the Church’s Catechism and encourage students, especially the ones who are training to do catechesis, to be familiar with and conversant in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. SBI? Not! I heard disdain for the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH; disdain which ranged from its gender bias to its unsophisticated, PreVatican II understanding of Scripture. Ah, BigE, Sacred Scripture, the veritable soul of sacred theology (along with sacred tradition), is really the issue to be pursued. To discern a school of theology’s perspectives, ascertain that school’s regard for Scripture. Let’s review DEI VERBUM DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON DIVINE REVELATION #24.
    “Sacred theology rests on the written word of God, together with sacred tradition, as its primary and perpetual foundation. By scrutinizing in the light of faith all truth stored up in the mystery of Christ, theology is most powerfully strengthened and constantly rejuvenated by that word. For the Sacred Scriptures contain the word of God and since they are inspired really are the word of God; and so the study of the sacred page is, as it were, the soul of sacred theology.” If a school of theology does not hold up scripture to the same high degree, so to speak, as the Church, that school’s theology will reflect it. Sorry for another anecdotal experience, BigE, but I got tired hearing scripture has errors, is crippled by historical conditioning, Jesus could not, did not, would not say this or that…… Modern Historical-Critical Scholars speculate, disagree, think, propose etc etc. Instead of raising so much doubt in Scripture, I recommend solid Catholic Exegetes. There are those Scripture scholars who do exegesis and help the Church to grow in her understanding without calling into question “the mysteries of the faith as traditionally understood and presently professed within the church”; without attempting” by reason to pass judgment on the content of the faith as if it were of human origin,”. Believe me, BigE, one of my text books at SBI was by Marquette theology professor Daniel Maguire. The author was teaching his readers how to dissent. I will close, BigE, affirming your experience. No one can take away from you what you experienced taking courses at Saint Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. No doubt, the faculty and staff are very personable people, likeable people. They even liked me! They pray, they worship, they read, write, preach and teach. They are very good at what they do. But is it Catholic? Compare and contrast. Go to http://www.salvationhistory.com to study Sacred Scripture. Be really adventurous and earn a Masters degree on line. Try Franciscan University of Steubenville or Professor Tim Gray’s new Augustine Institute at http://www.augustineinstitute.org/ The SBI folks I knew spoke against the centralized authoritarian management of the Pope, the Vatican etc….I realized later, it was not only the organizational, managerial issue. It was about substance. They simply did not agree with the Pope.

  16. avatar BigE says:

    @ brother of penance
    I don’t know where you got your information on the SBI attitude towards the Catechism, but the “Intro to Theology” course I took at SBI had the Catechism as required reading and it was treated with respect, and as a wonderful theological resource. In the time I was there I never heard any disdainful comments. Not one.

  17. avatar BigE says:

    @Ben,

    1) Your right; you didn’t use the word prove. My apology. I interpreted “until I hear someone make a credible claim….that St. Bernard’s staff usually stays within the bounds of Catholic doctrine” as requiring proof. Maybe I’m just confused as to what makes up a credible claim.

    2) I’m not sure of the second point you were making (especially since I too am a convert that also did a lot of research on other faith traditions. Funny, the thing I most admired about the Catholic faith was its constant introspection of itself and the dialogue that ensued).

    3) I’m disagreeing with your conclusion that St. Bernard’s teaches (as doctrine) anything that is outside the bounds of the Catholic faith or that it challenges the “fundamentals of the faith”. Of course, we may disagree as to what those fundamentals are.

    4) I could answer your questions if I knew your definition of “infallible” and how you apply it to Scripture. Same with the Magisterium. What do you define as the “Magisterium”?

    5) So you think the important issues to the faithful that theologians should be discussing and exploring is whether or not Mary had labor pains? Really?

  18. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Maybe I’m just confused as to what makes up a credible claim.

    maybe a Deacon or someone else who was completed a degree program could tell us what you just did about your course.

    I’m not sure of the second point you were making

    I thought you were saying I was closed minded or something. Perhaps you weren’t implying that.

    I’m disagreeing with your conclusion that St. Bernard’s teaches (as doctrine) anything that is outside the bounds of the Catholic faith or that it challenges the “fundamentals of the faith”.

    and this Theology on Tap session? What about the link Mike shared? and what about brother’s anecdotes?

    Of course, we may disagree as to what those fundamentals are.

    in all things, I only go off what our Church teaches.

    I could answer your questions if I knew your definition of “infallible” and how you apply it to Scripture. Same with the Magisterium. What do you define as the “Magisterium”?

    what I mean by infallible Scriptures is that the intent of the original author is w/out error. This is what our Church teaches is it not? It is fundamental is it not? In regards to the Magisterium, I don’t have a quick, off the cuff answer. Here’s the Catholic Encyclopedia:
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15006b.htm

    So you think the important issues to the faithful that theologians should be discussing and exploring is whether or not Mary had labor pains? Really?

    No, I didn’t say that. I didn’t realize where you were going with that question. If you’re asking what would be good exploratory material for a theologian – that’s beyond my knowledge to answer. Based on what Fr. Thomas Weinandy says, I think I have a decent grasp on what they shouldn’t be exploring.

  19. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Dr. K

    Someone told me that St Bernard’s did not have a library so maybe Charlie Curran may not be there!!

  20. avatar Eliza10 says:

    “Could the Diocese of Rochester’s own School of Theology and Ministry, [side note: I find it interesting that one of the words in the flash montage on the home page is “Empowerment”] which educates most of our lay leaders and deacons, be guilty of this assessment?”

    YES!!!!

    It breaks my heart to see the damage done by the DoR, under Bishop Clark, through St. Bernards. It is so sad.

    Except that people schooled in the psuedo-Catholicism and half-truths of St. Bernards and the ministrations of its graduates are many times truth-seekers, and when they hear the truth it can begin working on them.

    Less than a year now! A year from now there is a good chance a new Bishop will be here, or getting ready to be here, and then Catholic Truth can be unlocked from the archives. And the Word of God does not go out without bearing fruit!

  21. avatar Eliza10 says:

    “I’m going to continue beating the same drum and bring up the Theology on Tap session I attended a year ago until I hear someone make a credible claim that this session was an anomaly and that St. Bernard’s staff usually stays within the bounds of Catholic doctrine. ”

    Keep beating that same drum. I skimmed briefly your Theology on Tap articles here and I do want to read them thoroughly. But I keep procrastinating that because the skimming made me SICK! That’s because you really hit on what I think is the core of the problem in the DoR. And when I get close to what I think is the core of the DoR problem it just feels sickening.

    That theology On Tap session and so much of the St. Bernard’s theology must make our Lord SICK! He certainly agonized in the Garden over St. Bernards itself.

  22. avatar Diane Harris says:

    I have several comments, a mix of things. As a result of the priest sexual abuse crisis, it has been required that a “safe environment course” be taken by just about everyone even remotely involved with children anywhere in the diocese. It seemed a reasonable question as to whether or not the bureaucracy of certification requirements actually has the potential to make children safer. I took the course at St. Bernard’s. It was a non-credit 7½ hour course, spread over three evenings. I realize the course is given elsewhere, but I took it at SBI.

    It was an eye-opener, but not in the way you might think. There were three sections: sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and sexual abuse. The course is totally silent on other forms of abuse, such as verbal abuse, bullying or emotional intimidation. As a matter of fact, one instructor tried to insist the word abuse had to apply only to sexual abuse, as if the dictionary definition of abuse has no relevance. Quite frankly, I had the strong sense that no one with any diocesan responsibility in this arena cares at all about any abuse except sexual, which indeed seems narrow in scope.

    The course is partly lecture, some handouts, and a video of lectures from some years ago, and somewhat out-dated. But, there is only ONE requirement: be there! There are no tests, no grades, not even pass or fail based on anything except attendance. One person, who text-messaged under the table during most of each lecture, put in the required time and is believed to have been “approved.”

    While a background check might catch prior violations or crimes, every perpetrator has a “first crime” so passing a background check is no guarantee of future behavior. At some point in everyone’s life they could pass a background check; i.e. before their first crime. But otherwise there was nothing in the course material at all which would offer any protection to children, in my opinion. And that is indeed disappointing, as one might expect more of an academic institution as the venue for such a course.

    Around this same time I took an 8 hour U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating Safety course, to meet the requirements for driving a personal watercraft. At the end of the course, there was a tough, proctored exam. No fooling. And not everybody passed. There was certainly a lot more care in making sure the Jet Ski and I are safe and other boaters and swimmers, than there was in the Safe Environment Course to make sure that children would be safe.

    Then it hit me….Safe Environment isn’t much about safety; it’s about keeping insurance rates down. But it doesn’t make the children safer. I think that parents especially can get lulled into a false sense of comfort that those who took the program are “safer” to be with than those who didn’t. It doesn’t say anything at all about what individuals will do when they are in situations to cause danger to another, nor what parents can do to protect their children. The priest sexual abuse scandal proved that conclusively.

    While I was there, during a break, I wanted to make a visit in the chapel. The tabernacle was closed but there was no candle. Nobody seemed to know if the Blessed Sacrament was present or not. I offered to light a candle but they said they had none. I offered to get one at St. Louis and bring it back but Sr. Pat would have none of it. She said she’d take care of it, but I’ve been there a number of times since, and the condition has been the same. Closed tabernacle; no candle.

    Some (but not all) of the courses are very “lite” ….. covering way too much in way too short a period of time, a willy-nilly race to check boxes off the course requirements. I had higher expectations based on my own educational experiences. Also, instructors seem very preoccupied with the gender issue, stumbling over their own words to avoid even inadvertently saying “he” by mistake. Some interesting convolutions of sentence structure to avoid the obvious. One professor gave a talk outside of SBI with questioning some Catholic basics like all mankind being descended from one set of parents. That is a non-negotiable I believe. Why would it ever be spoken to a parish group? And the darling of SBI and their awardee, Fr. Curran, is another priest speaking to the people in the pew. He’s forbidden to teach at a Catholic College but is given a pulpit in a local Catholic Church? How does that work, exactly? That is another way in which disobedience to church teaching gets equated with SBI. By giving Fr. Curran an award, they formally associate themselves with his teaching.

    Finally, in his 2nd Jesus of Nazareth Book, (Holy Week), Pope Benedict wrote (p xiv) “…in 200 years of exegetical work, historical-critical exegesis has already yielded its essential fruit. If scholarly exegesis is not to exhaust itself in constantly new hypotheses, becoming theologically irrelevant, it must take a methodolgical step forward and see itself once again as a theological discipline….”

    The best explanations I’ve received is that those who bring prayer and deep spirituality to scripture or tradition or church teaching will be led by the Holy Spirit to penetrate deeper into the Sacred Truths. Then exegesis or theological understanding can lead others to deepen in faith. But if a scholar lacks such faith, and such application which begins with faith, there is nowhere else for them to go except in the dungeon of their own minds, in a downward spiral of destroying and undoing truth itself. The so-called scholars who go this route (Fr. Curran, for example, in my estimation) drag souls with them, and can offer nothing of a higher level as they are trapped in their own minds.

    These are just a few of my experiences at SBI; admittedly it has only been a few courses, some questions of obedience to church teaching, and some heresy peeking around the corners, while being preoccupied with gender correctness and saving money on candles. If this is the best available, it is quite a sad state. Hopefully, priests formed at SBI or its equivalents will be quarantined from higher episcopal roles until righteousness is ensured.

  23. avatar Eliza10 says:

    “There is much that is troubling in Rochester …the official Church clearly teaches something other than what is taught here in Rochester, while on the other hand, she lets everything just continue on as is. This makes it really difficult for a blog like ours to have any credibility. They say, “If it’s such a big deal, then why doesn’t Rome do anything?”. I honestly can’t answer that question. Rome has clearly spoken, but it’s true that she has taken almost zero action (at least publicly – we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes).”

    Years ago when I was not Catholic and not interested in being Catholic, some devout Catholics were speaking wise words to my very Catholic college roommate, that I always remembered, because I guess God wanted me to remember it. They explained that the Church is like a great big ship, and she takes time to turn around. Change doesn’t happen quick, but its very solid when it does.

    A new bishop, for us, represents very solid and lasting change. And maybe the Vatican is watching very closely here, and sees that replacing the bishop is what it will take. Some people can’t be reformed. Maybe our Holy Mother the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, is being wise about this. To pull out a dissident bishop, if that’s what is needed here, might be like what Jesus tells the Church not to do, pulling out the tares and taking good wheat with them. So perhaps sticking to the usual protocol is the wisest course of action. Yes, it seems like slow-motion repair work the Church is doing, but, when the Holy Spirit works, it can be very fast and miraculously thorough – and it sticks! I think you know, Ben, since you are a convert.

    You also wrote:
    “Which also leads to the question, “You’re just some blogger [said with disgust] while these other people are accredited academics and actual members of the clergy. Who are you to think you can even fathom the heights of their intellectual prowess and ecclesial authority?” My answer leads me to what I truly love about the Internet. I am a nobody. I am a hack. I wasn’t raised in the Catholic Church and I still have a lot to learn (having only converted 4 years ago).”

    I have seen the most ignorant, unwise Diosean officials make such comments, as a way of ending intelligent discussion (which, as you noted below that remark, they DO NOT WANT!). I am referring of course to the “I have a degree in this and you don’t” comment. To me, this just makes them look like the complete ignorant fools they are. Its like seeing the emperor REALLY has no clothes on. I feel so embarrassed for them when their silly elitest ignorant pride shows! I suppose they don’t know I have an education, too, and I know that the most brilliant people in my field didn’t learn their most valuable, useful and true lessons in college classrooms or from college textbooks (Ug! Often the place for the least learning!). But I am not going to brag about the academic hoops I jumped through because unlike them I know their worth. They are often a stumbling block to true wisdom and true intelligence. But to hear DoR officials talk this way, and they do – they must have mandatory classes in self-congratulations at St. Bernards – I just feel embarrassed for them. Because don’t most of us know, either by knowing the Saints or reading about them, or just by inner knowledge (which folks less filled with academic backwash have more access to) that God imparts his wisdom to the foolish of the world? And if they are looking at others thinking they are more foolish because they are less accredited in theology, then they should WATCH OUT because its always those foolish ones that God imparts his wisdom to in abundance so that His Glory can shine!

    Really, St. Bernards graduates should have hats-in-hand humility and go to the old ladies with no degrees at Daily Mass for direction on the path to Wisdom. Ask them what they are reading and listening to. Because obviously that’s where God is pouring out His Wisdom in abundance.

  24. avatar Eliza10 says:

    “The dialogue that the progressives have been talking up for decades is manifest in a way that no one could have anticipated. They should be basking in their glory right now if they were truly concerned about dialogue and authentic debate. What’s really fascinating, though, is that the Catholic blogosphere is almost exclusively orthodox. Where are the progressive bloggers? They don’t exist. They are sitting on the sidelines during the Super Bowl of all Super Bowls of true dialogue. So why aren’t they playing the game? It’s because their arguments don’t hold water and they know it.”

    SO TRUE!

  25. avatar brother of penance says:

    BigE, you wrote “@ brother of penance
    I don’t know where you got your information on the SBI attitude towards the Catechism, but the “Intro to Theology” course I took at SBI had the Catechism as required reading and it was treated with respect, and as a wonderful theological resource. In the time I was there I never heard any disdainful comments. Not one.” BigE, I am glad that your experience of SBI included a course that required reading the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. It surprises me that it was treated with respect and without disdain. Did you, your classmates and professor agree that the CCC is a sure and reliable norm for Catholic faith? (I was equally surprised when I learned that Father Robert Barron was a keynote speaker at a recent graduation. These are signs of hope.) I got my information from personal experience. I studied there from 1989 until 1993 when I was awarded a Master of Arts Degree in Theology. I was exposed to guest speakers invited to class; guests which included Father Charles Curran and a layman from Buffalo who explained how he facilitated a social justice group designed to build the Kingdom of God. The group never mentions Jesus, however, so as to not offend anyone. Imagine, BigE, trying to have the Kingdom of God without the King! I have been back to the old campus on South Goodman Street twice; once to hear Fr. Richard McBrien tell his audience that protestant ministers who decide to be received into the Catholic Church have not come because they found truth, the other time to hear four presenters rant against the Pope who declared that the Church did not have the authority to ordain women to the ministerial priesthood. Those four presenters ignored the fact the discussion was considered officially closed. BigE, please consider my earlier suggestion to compare and contrast. Realize the very different resources and authors used by Catholic professors who unashamedly take the oath of fidelity with the bibliographies recommmended by SBI faculty.

  26. avatar BigE says:

    @Ben,

    1) From one of the links posted on this thread, Bishop Clarke stated “…St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry…is a wonderful, small, graduate level school that we have. It’s a great resource for us.” So if you don’t think the Bishop is a credible source…why would you think a Deacon is? Your definition of credible still eludes me.

    2) Relative to Mike’s links…I’m not sure what you (or he) thinks they proved.

    2a) In his blog relative to the first course he took, he wrote; “I have to admit that the deacon did do a fairly decent job of presenting a balanced view of the topic, although his liberal leanings did get the better of him a couple of times.” His conclusion that Deacon Tom’s goal was to tell conseratives how to get lost (pastorally) is completely subjective (and unsupported) and contradicts his first statement. I wonder if Deacon Tom would agree that this was the goal of his course? Either that, or the message is: unless the professor agree’s 100% with my world view, the course is no good. That would be sad.
    2b) As for Sister Pat’s theology on tap and the second link. Have you ever read a book on Moral Theology or taken a course? If Moral Theology is simply a matter of here’s the Church’s rules – follow them. That’s not a course. That doesn’t invite any deeper thinking, introspection, or even discussion. I (or anyone) could teach that in 1 minute. Is that what you think moral theology is about, and is what moral theologians do?
    2c) As for the 3d article about Bishop Clark. I have now read it twice and do not see where Bishop Clark made any statements that were “outside the bounds of Catholic doctrine” or challenged “the fundamentals of the faith”. Would somebody please post the statement by the Bishop in this article that does either.

    3) The Church teaches a lot of things. I was asking which of those you believe are “fundamental” to the faith. Are you saying you believe EVERYTHING the Church teaches is a fundamental of the faith?

    4) I certainly can agree on the intent issue relative to infallibility. Of course, the trick is to understand intent. Unless it is literal from the passage, we then begin to wade into the waters of “interpretation” of that intent. That’s where things start to get messy is it not? This is where theologians enter stage right.

  27. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Ben wrote: “Loyalty to the tribe is not true Catholicism. Loyalty to Jesus Christ and His Church is.”

    Amen to that!

  28. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Big E, you challenged that Ben had not enough info to come to his conclusions. So now you see, Big E, that many links that have been quickly provided to bear more evidence of St. Bernard’s dissident, perverted theology. We have all seen multiple examples of this. And here is another for the dog pile: http://credo.stormloader.com/Doctrine/patschoe.htm

    Ben says, “I am more than welcome for someone to share stories that show that my limited experience is an anomaly (as I said). I would love to be proven wrong….”

    I am with Ben – I would LOVE to be proven wrong!

    But I don’t think my wishful thinking will alter reality. No. I don’t adhere to the New Age “Believe it and Manifest it” doctrine, or the “Name it and Claim it” doctrine of some Evangelicals. But if I did, I would certainly manifest/claim Catholic thinking for St. Bernards!

    Big E, you suggested that if one doesn’t like the dissident theology of Sister Pat Schoelles, one could take a different class with a different professor (and if only it was just her!) But unfortunately, Sr. Pat is President of St. Bernards, so her thinking has a pervasive and directing impact on the institution she heads.

    Sr. Pat’s thinking is not just dissident, but it appears to have decidedly dysfunctional roots, IMO. From a link above, a quote on Sr. Pat: “She said she and a group of other nuns receive unofficial translations of psalms and prayer books that are gender inclusive. She said the sisters decided to stop singing the hymn “Faith of Our Fathers” when they realized that it had been their mothers who shaped their faith.”

    She stopped singing that beautiful hymn because it refers to our Fathers?? [And what does the President of St. Bernards do with Early Church Fathers?? Pretend they don’t exist, either?]. If her own father was a failure or absent, does that make ALL fathers failures or absent and not worth honoring?? She can’t see that the Fathers of this hymn are the martyrs who died for our faith, that it is inclusive of woman martyrs. Oh – no, she doesn’t see that since her psalm book does away with the universals meaning of him/he/men. If Sr. Pat has issues with her father – and we ALL have issues in our life – the true Catholic Church is the ordinary place for the extraordinary graces to heal those wounds and become whole. But it your whole focus is on changing the Church and denying the power of the Sacraments (brought to us and entrusted to the Father-priests of the Church) then you miss out on that great power for healing.

    I guess that helps put more puzzle pieces together for me, like why those associated with St. Bernards are so driven to remove the Tabernacle from the Church, and if they cannot stand up to the overwhelming opposition of the faithful to that, they at least force the Real Presence of Jesus to be moved off to the side. And Diane Harris’s story, above, about Sr. Pat keeping the tabernacle dark (and empty?) and not wanting the Tabernacle candle lit is EXTREMELY telling about Sr. Pat. Is Sr. Pat perhaps intimidated by the Eucharist since only a MAN priest can bring it to us??

    I hear a lot about misogyny [and its very real]. But whats the opposite of that? Because tit-for-tat, eye for an eye, and revenge are not the Christlike way for going up against the evil of misogyny.

    Such dysfunction! How these people need Christ and His Church (and not the reinvention they are tying to make of it!).

  29. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Brother of pennance wrote:

    “The keynote speaker and honorary degree recipient at the 1992 Saint Bernard’s Commencement was Rosemary Radford Ruether. Far be it from me to object whom SBI chooses to invite to address the Institute’s graduates, faculty, families and friends. Yet, to my utter amazement, Ms. Rosemary Radford Ruether spent her entire talk telling the captive audience what was radically wrong with the Catholic Church, her teachings, her hierarchy, her organization. Because of all of these “injustices” our guest speaker decided not, I repeat, not to leave the Church on principle, but to remain and work to change the Church, her teachings, her hierarchy and her organization. When the Institute’s Chancellor stood up to speak, he did not refer at all to this scandalous speech. He did not politely explain that the speaker was entitled to her opinions and course of action but he respectfully disagreed and wholeheartedly supported the Catholic Church of which
    he is a BISHOP. Not a word. Not one word from the shepherd to the sheep who had just be ravaged by a woman whose hatred for Sacred Tradition shocked me”

    This sort of story is what reminds me again and again to pray for Bishop Clark. It is so shocking that our bishop is SO derelict in his duty as Shepherd. It is so frightening to think of him facing God as Judge for how he lived out the awesome responsibility he was granted as bishop. God is the just and righteous Judge. Bishop Clark truly needs our prayers – ours, specifically, because he has offends us and wounds us in his dereliction – for God’s Mercy.

  30. avatar Diane Harris says:

    Fr. Curran and Pope John Paul II are both theologians, but it isn’t just a matter of who is the better theologian, who has the highest IQ or the argument with most consensus.

    Consider BigE’s words: “2) Given that Sister Pat has an M.A. and Ph.D from Notre Dame in Moral Theology and that degrees are usually handed out only after competence in a subject matter is exhibited; I would assume that would go a long way in refuting your whole fraud analogy. That’s one of the purposes in Universities giving people degrees. To prove their competence in a subject matter.”

    So, how come Fr. Curran is rapt in support for contraception, abortion, and homosexual unions, and Pope John Paul II received the holy insights of Theology of the Body as a breakthrough teaching? Isn’t it because JPII began with the fundamental of obedience to the Church’s teaching and was receptive in faithfulness, but Fr. CC stands on the shifting sands of his own opinion? God honors the obedience, and in that is a sign for us to evaluate the fruit of each tree, and to discern the spirit of each theologian. Instead of hushing people who don’t have the same education, the people in the pew who know what the church teaches won’t be fooled by false teachers. And Fr. Curran and the Sr. Pat’s of the world, no matter how much they know, ought to know better that trying to used the blessing of their degrees as a stage from which to undermine church teaching and risk souls.

  31. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Diane wrote: “Consider BigE’s words: “2) Given that Sister Pat has an M.A. and Ph.D from Notre Dame in Moral Theology and that degrees are usually handed out only after competence in a subject matter is exhibited; I would assume that would go a long way in refuting your whole fraud analogy. That’s one of the purposes in Universities giving people degrees. To prove their competence in a subject matter.””

    I have been considering those words, too! We are supposed to have some awe over those degrees, and show them some deference? I have witnessed those connected with St. B’s who shamelessly that flaunt their degrees as a reason you should listen to their superior opinion. I am embarrassed for them, and for Big E, who presents a like argument for degrees here.

    I think of St. Catherine of Sienna who had no schooling, and didn’t even know how to read or write (but God did change that in one sitting one day, infusing her with the knowledge of reading and writing). She, the unlearned of no degrees, was advisor to the Pope!

    Those who think we should be impressed with degrees must never have studied the lives of the great Saints of our Church.

    And what degree does St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, have? None, I believe!

    Yes, one can have degrees and yet not be barred from wisdom and truth, as Diane pointed out here, in her reference to Pope John Paul (contrasted to the unwise and misled Father Curran). Also St. Thomas Aquinas had degrees. But IMO, degrees can often be a stumbling block. Anything that you can tack onto yourself to show the world your self-importance is a temptation to pride, which results in foolishness. One should perhaps be apologetic about ones degrees rather than flaunt them, and pray for graces of humility if one has a degree in Theology, that it does not act as a deterrent to holy wisdom!

  32. avatar christian says:

    Thank you Ben for your post.
    Getting off the topic: The Closing Mass for St. Andrew Church has been announced this weekend at St. Andrew Church. We were told not to refer to t as a closing mass. It has been given the title- The Celebration of the Sacred Life of St. Andrew Church.

    The Celebration of the Sacred Life of St. Andrew Church will be on Sunday, September 4th, 2011 at 2:00 P.M.

  33. avatar Dr. K says:

    It’s a closing Mass.

  34. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Another example of the dishonest use of words that is so commonplace with the DoR. Put a happy spin on it with our superior, theologically-educated manipulation of words! Maybe then the ignorant masses we are in charge of won’t notice!

    So disingenuous! So fake! Those fools think we are fools and won’t notice!

  35. avatar christian says:

    How parishioners found out about The Celebration of the Sacred Life of St. Andrew Church (AKA Closing Mass)in a very unusual manner during announcement time at the end of mass.
    One of the priests assigned to St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish, Fr. Bob Werth, talked about news, and then auditory learning, and then asked parishioners to repeat after him. Word by word, or possibly two words at a time, we repeated bit by bit of the message. We had to string the words together to receive the message.
    We were told that we were having this “celebration” on Sept.4th to ensure we had a church that wasn’t “half emptied out.”for this mass.

  36. avatar christian says:

    We received the message afterward to not refer to that event as a closing mass.
    It was an unusual way of delivering that message, repeating one or two-three words at a time after him in addition to referring to it as a celebration, just like any other 50th or 75th anniversary celebration.

  37. avatar Diane Harris says:

    HOW MANIPULATIVE! But what’s new? This is the way things are done in DoR. They seem to want to see smiling robots for a last hurrah. Personally, I would advise people against participating in any closing, no matter what its Madison Avenue marquee says. It pollutes the soul in feeling forced to “celebrate” when the church should be more properly mourned by anyone who realizes the enormity of snatching a church consecrated to God back out of His Hands. It is just not something that is nice to witness or have on one’s soul as a material cooperation in the closing.

    The bishop said my church (St. Mary in Rushville) is not closed, but there hasn’t been a Sunday Mass since September 2009, the statues of Mary and Joseph are moved out to Naples, the Tabernacle is gone, and it is a mess. But it is still an open church? Right. More manipulation. Why? IMO it is to bleed the treasury to zero. Rightfully, 75% of it should have gone to the Canandaigua Treasury to support the 75% of parishioners who are going there (instead of staying in OLOL.)

  38. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Christian, what a cheesy attempt at mind-control! How ridiculous! There is that signature DoR arrogance again. These local Catholics they are in charge of – they are ignorant sheep, you know. So, lets try an elementary brain-washing technique on them, one that would be insulting to even kindergartners…

    It is truly a grace of God that anyone around here stays Catholic. I know for certain that if what I was exposed in the DoR was all I knew of what is Catholic, I NEVER in a million years would have become Catholic! I would have been as anti-Catholic as all the DoR ex-Catholic Evangelicals I know!!

  39. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Christian wrote: “We received the message afterward to not refer to that event as a closing mass.
    It was an unusual way of delivering that message, repeating one or two-three words at a time after him in addition to referring to it as a celebration, just like any other 50th or 75th anniversary celebration.”

    Wow, the DoR is even telling us how to think! Its getting really creepy. The thought of their private empire crashing in next year must be making them lose their marbles.

    Also I am wondering, if it “not a Closing Mass”, does this mean Bishop Clark won’t be hiding out for this one? He’ll be there?

  40. avatar Eliza10 says:

    ______________________________________
    Diane wrote: “HOW MANIPULATIVE!…”
    ______________________________________

    Good point. This is manipulation, and crass manipulation at that because they are manipulating when the people are down.

    Like true Narcissists (and Narcissism is so characteristic of DoR leadership) they display an inability to empathize. There so much brokenness in DoR leadership. How can you shepherd and if you cannot empathize? How? And how can you shepherd if you are so sorely lacking in wisdom, that very wisdom that God promises to give in great measure if you only ask? Why are they not asking? Is some sin blocking their connection to God?? Some connection to the great puzzle of a Diocese that keeps the Catholic teaching on chastity an iron-clad secret for years on end??

    Here is what a wise and empathetic shepherd would have done. He would have called together the hurting people of St. Andrews and said, “I see you are hurting. I don’t know what its like to be in your shoes. So please tell me, what would you like your last Mass to be like? Maybe get together amongst yourselves later and decide together, and then come tell me, and I will do my best to make it happen the way you want it.”

    And I wonder what that might look like. Perhaps something solemn and simple. But I sure don’t think these people are in the mood for a party about it.

    __________________________________________________________________________
    And Diane also said “…It pollutes the soul in feeling forced to “celebrate” when the church should be more properly mourned by anyone who realizes the enormity of snatching a church consecrated to God back out of His Hands. It is just not something that is nice to witness or have on one’s soul as a material cooperation in the closing.
    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Very insightful. Its actually a kind of abusive. Oh, abuse is Narcissistic behavior too, isn’t it?

    ________________________________________________________________________________
    Diane also wrote: “…The bishop said my church (St. Mary in Rushville) is not closed, but there hasn’t been a Sunday Mass since September 2009, the statues of Mary and Joseph are moved out to Naples, the Tabernacle is gone, and it is a mess. But it is still an open church? Right. More manipulation. Why? IMO it is to bleed the treasury to zero. Rightfully, 75% of it should have gone to the Canandaigua Treasury to support the 75% of parishioners who are going there (instead of staying in OLOL.)”
    ____________________________________________________________________________________

    This is so sad. And, yes, as you say, there has to be a reason for the planned negligence. Bleeding the treasury dry? That sounds corrupt. More of the kind of thing that makes it necessary for the DoR to be so secretive about how they spend our money…

  41. avatar brother of penance says:

    Hey, Brother Ben, who would have thought that readers are still reading and posting on this subject? If someone else doesn’t get a comment posted before my long winded effort, this should be #38. Before I comment on the last mass/not the last mass celebration/mourning at Saint Andrew Church on September 4, let us take one more look at
    something pertinent regarding the Diocese of Rochester. We discover in the link posted by Eliza10 something essential. James Likoudis wrote, “… It may be said that her (Sister Pat’s) Lecture on “What’s Good about Being Catholic?” only witnessed further to the alarming secularization of Catholic theology that has transpired in the Rochester diocese. There, one witnesses again and again the widespread loss of any emphasis on the overriding theme of salvation and an authentic Christ-centered spirituality. The spiritual life of grace suffers substitution by a pronounced worldly Social Horizontalism relegating personal conversion to the Church and evangelization of others to the periphery of Catholic interest.” Mr. Likoudis is not merely offering a subjective opinion. It is a veritable observation. In deed, we are witnessing the widespread loss of any emphasis on the theme of salvation and an authentic Christ-centered spirituality!! Isn’t that one of the points made in my own August 20, 2011 at 10:52 AM post? In that post I refer to Father Thomas Weinandy’s NEW COVENANT article entitled WHY CATHOLICS FIND IT SO HARD TO EVANGELIZE. Where in the Diocese of Rochester was the spiritual life of grace and personal conversion to Christ and his Church emphasized? Where in the Diocese of Rochester was substitution by a pronounced worldly social horizontalism resisted? Where in the Diocese of Rochester was evangelization and its vocal sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ crucified and risen kept front and center instead of the periphery of Catholic interest? The answer is filled with the heartbreaking reality of Diocesan hypocrisy and deceit. What Likoudis observes is lost was found at the very same inner city parish with the most numerous, faithful and fruitful outreach ministries in North East Rochester. That’s right….Light of Christ Catholic Church at Saint Andrew, the same worship site slated for a September 4 closing mass/non-closing mass, celebration/mourning mass. What is that Sacred Life which the September 4 mass planners intend to celebrate? The life of grace in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. The vital, vibrant Eucharistic Community of Catholic Faith which was a BEACON OF HOPE for Saint Andrew parishioners, poor neighbors and fellow diocesan brothers and sisters even from as far away as Transfiguration Parish is to be closed and moved to who knows where. We who know first hand the Holy Presence of God in our midst, the wonderful worship, the faithful teaching of the Apostles and Sacred Tradition, the dedicated and devoted ministries and apostolates know only too well of the behind closed doors decisions and real estate marketing moves made on Buffalo Road. We will celebrate September 4th Jesus Christ, the saving grace of God, the gift of faith and community that vitalized everyone on Portland Avenue and its Catholic Church, Saint Andrew. We will pray God for the grace to love and forgive those who disregarded and destroyed Saint Andrew Church. We will seek the face of Christ and go out into the deep trusting His Holy Name. But we will not be afraid to say aloud: “Secularizers in the Church, you who overlook the divine laws of the Church because you no longer understand her divine mission, Repent and rediscover Grace, Mercy and Peace. You who calculate real estate marketing values as more important than the proclamation of salvation through the grace of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, we will forgive you, we will love you. Yes, Grace and Peace to you from God our FATHER and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

  42. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Wow. I haven’t been to St. Andrews, but now I feel particularly sad that such a parish is closing. Our Bishop certainly doesn’t seem to favor the thriving vibrant Catholic parishes, unless they are adamantly attempting to thrive and be vibrant under his agenda…

  43. avatar brother of penance says:

    WHERE IS THE BISHOP? Over the years I witnessed our beloved bishop’s presence at Saint Andrew. (N.B. use of the word beloved…..we have a solemn obligation to express filial devotion to one’s Ordinary. He is to be loved!) Bishop Clark is personable, gracious and hospitable. He knows me and would greet me using my first name. For me, therefore, it was special when our bishop visited The Beacon Of Hope on Portland Avenue, Saint Andrew Catholic Church. What a joy to have one’s bishop preside over the celebration of Holy Mass. What awesome solemnity as a successor of the Apostles, a member of the College of Bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome, offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! A most memorable event with the Bishop present was the 1999 LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS February 14 Mass. Standing room only as former graduates of the school, former parishioners, those who were married at STA and had raised their families came back. All came to join the current parishioners to lift up our hearts in joyful gratitude. It was a finishing touch to a financial campaign to raise funds to renovate, restore, repair and move forward into the 21st century as the vibrant, vital Eucharistic Community we were. Bishop Clark’s homily that mass was magnificent. I never really thought of him as an enthusiastic preacher and certainly he never impressed me as very evangelistic. But at this mass he worked the crowd like a master. What power in his preaching. What evangeliztic fervor!. One would have thought Saint Paul himself was present.
    Seriously and sincerely, I was blessed as was the gathered assembly of worshippers. The money was offered; the necessary repairs and renovations were completed and our pastor moved on to his next assignment two years later satisfied he oversaw the management to maintain historic Saint Andrew Church on Portland Avenue in the City. WHERE IS THE BISHOP NOW? After the announcement last fall that STA would be closed (a closing that baffles, confuses, astounds and amazes)parishioners expressed their bewilderment to Deb Housel, the diocesan appointed co-administrator who orchestrated (excuse me, facilitated) the sham of a Planning Team Process which decided (ordered by Buffalo Road?) to do away with Portland Avenue’s Catholic Beacon of Hope. As the frustration, hurt and confusion increased, it became clear that all of this parishioner expression of disbelief needed to be addressed to the Bishop, not merely to his representative. Deb Housel was told the sheep need the shepherd. Letters, phone calls, emails, all forms of correspondence were sent. Parishioners requested Bishop Clark to come to be with Saint Andrew, to hold a listening session, to help us through this tragedy of real estate marketing calculation at the expense of God’s Mission and God’s People. Were all correspondence and requests ignored?, denied? WHERE IS THE BISHOP? Saint Andrew had been without a pastor since the end of June 2009. The Diocese virtually waited until our Pastor was scheduled to go on a sabbatical to do further study on evangelization before announcing the mandated clustering of 4 parishes, 5 worship sites to consolidate, close, sell etc etc ad nauseam. No priest/pastor, no ordained leadership representing STA, no visible, stable, solid presence to guide us, console us, train us, teach us how to manage and cope the transition which smelled bad from the beginning and only grew worse through co-administrator orchestrated gossip, innuendo, false promises, deceit and lies. WHERE IS THE BISHOP NOW?
    Believe me, Cleansingfiredor readers, we must not harbor grudges and resentments. We must not cultivate cynicism which will harm our souls. With all my heart I exhort us to love and forgive. It will be very difficult, however, to trust.
    One last word, a disclaimer of sorts. I chose not to volunteer to help plan the September 4th Mass. I do not want to plan a celebration that is necessary because of real estate marketing value calculations. I wish my Saint Andrew brothers and sisters well. Their intentions are pure and good. The Pastoral Administrator and the Assisting Priests, I am sure, are doing the best they can with a situation they inherited. Will I attend the celebration? I do not know now. Will Bishop Clark attend this celebration? I do not know if Bishop Clark will be present. I thank cleansingfiredor for this opportunity to share my experience and to vent. I only hope that some how anything I have written helps others to look to Jesus. OUR HELP IS IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, THE LORD WHO MADE HEAVEN AND EARTH.

  44. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Wow. Brother of Pennance, I am glad you wrote. You have a lot to say that is worth reading. I wish you would space your paragraphs, though, to make it easier to read!

    So many thoughts on what you wrote; it does seem that we need a St. Andrews Closing Mass column here so we can comment there. Maybe Ben will start one for us? Here is pictures of St. Andrews for those who haven’t been there:

    http://www.chubbrealestate.com/real-estate/Buffalo-Niagara-MLS/Commercial/property/R150259-901923-Portland-Ave-Rochester-NY-14621/

    http://www.letchworthrealty.com/real-estate/New-York-State-Alliance-MLS/Commercial/property/R150259-901923-Portland-Ave-Rochester-NY-14621/

    It sounds, from what your are saying, that St. Andrews was thriving, so why it was closed raises a lot of quesions I almost cringe to know the answer to. From the pictures, its an especially beautiful property. Chosen to sell for its real estate value, I suppose? I hope and pray that in this recession no one will buy it, and any offers made all fall through, so we can have our church back when the new bishop comes. Of course he will have a financial mess and may find the secret as to why the bishop needs these millions from selling our churches…
    __________________________________________________________________________
    You wrote: “With all my heart I exhort us to love and forgive. It will be very difficult, however, to trust.”
    __________________________________________________________________________

    Well it would be pretty foolish to trust. There is no reason to trust. I don’t trust the bishop or the DoR leadership because they haven’t given me reason to trust and the Church doesn’t call us to suspend reason in matters of trusting people – including Church officials, who like the rest of us, may be great saints or may be great sinners. We are to love the bishop, yes; we are to love everyone, to love our enemies even, and enemies of the Catholic Church as well! I hadn’t heard about this special love for the bishop. However, our Church is always reasonable; I am quite sure the kind of love our Church means is not warm fuzzy feelings or familial affection. Certainly it must be the same kind of love we are called to love for our enemies, which is a love of Christian Charity. Loving actions.

    And speaking the truth is a loving action! We at Cleansing Fire are being truly more loving than any of the Bishop’s payrolled puppets because to speak the truth is a greater love.

    _____________________________________________________________________
    You wrote: “…After the announcement last fall that STA would be closed (a closing that baffles, confuses, astounds and amazes)parishioners expressed their bewilderment to Deb Housel, the diocesan appointed co-administrator who orchestrated (excuse me, facilitated) the sham of a Planning Team Process which decided (ordered by Buffalo Road?) to do away with Portland Avenue’s Catholic Beacon of Hope….”
    ___________________________________________________________________________

    I guess its confusing because the parish is vibrant and is truly a beacon of hope – and isn’t that exactly what the Bishop always says is what he wants of the parishes here?? So how could he close it?? Well, it makes perfect sense if you consider that maybe his desire for “vibrancy” and “beacons of hope” are simply insincere, flowery, fluffy phrases he uses over and over again to placate and distract the people while he pushes forward his own, other agenda. That explains it for me.

    I Googled Deb Housal to see what kind of person our Bishop uses for his dirty work. Someone with a friendly face, of course! I found this CF clip of Deb Housal’s greeting in a bulletin from Dr. K here, 6/30/10, from a bulletin (tags: Bishop Clark, Church Closings, Northeast Rochester Cluster), titled, “Message from our Parish Co-Administrators”, here abbreviated, the essence of what she wrote:

    “We want to thank all parishioners for your ongoing support, as we work together to strengthen the Catholic presence…here in the North East…We are excited about working together…Our dream is for all of us to experience a time full of grace, as we rally together to take advantage of this new opportunity for all of us to grow in faith, hope, and love…”

    There we go, Diocesan fluffy-flower words that mean trouble is coming. It means: “We are here to hack your church”. Who thinks that the Bishop did not already know that St. Andrews would be the one to close before he sent Ms. Housal to implement it? Of course he knew. This is the usual DoR modus operandi – so predictable! The same old story! And someone on the frontlines will get a reward when its all done. What I wonder is, does he keep Deb Housal in the dark till the last minute, or does she know, too, well before she penned those words?

    _________________________________________________________________
    You wrote: “… As the frustration, hurt and confusion increased, it became clear that all of this parishioner expression of disbelief needed to be addressed to the Bishop, not merely to his representative. Deb Housel was told the sheep need the shepherd. Letters, phone calls, emails, all forms of correspondence were sent. Parishioners requested Bishop Clark to come to be with Saint Andrew, to hold a listening session, to help us through this tragedy of real estate marketing calculation at the expense of God’s Mission and God’s People. Were all correspondence and requests ignored?, denied? WHERE IS THE BISHOP?”
    __________________________________________________________________________

    Does it look good for the bishop to have any hand in the closing? Of course not, that’s why he wasn’t around. He wouldn’t look good. He CAN’T not-look-good, for goodness sake! Looking good is what its about, right? He was hiding, that’s why you couldn’t find him, and that’s why Deb Housal didn’t bother him with your pleas; she knows the routine, she knows what her employer expects of her and she is about her paycheck, NOT about the people of the parish. You don’t matter; she knows that.

    ______________________________________________________________________________
    You wrote: “…Saint Andrew had been without a pastor since the end of June 2009. The Diocese virtually waited until our Pastor was scheduled to go on a sabbatical to do further study on evangelization before announcing the mandated clustering of 4 parishes, 5 worship sites to consolidate, close, sell etc etc ad nauseam. No priest/pastor, no ordained leadership representing STA, no visible, stable, solid presence to guide us, console us, train us, teach us how to manage and cope the transition which smelled bad from the beginning and only grew worse through co-administrator orchestrated gossip, innuendo, false promises, deceit and lies.”
    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    Waited till your Pastor was to go on sabbatical to further study evangelism. Sounds like the Pastor was intending to continue on as before – so, maybe he was in the dark about his bishop’s plans then. But you can be sure the timing was NO MISTAKE. Every move is orchestrated extremely carefully, just like Deb Housals words, quoted above!

    And the carefully-orchestrated plan ALWAYS includes putting together a “parish council” of selected [NOT elected] parishioners, who can then bear the burden of responsibility for what they actually have NO responsibility for, WHATSOEVER.

    If you follow Diane Harris odyssedy written and still being written here about the closing and destruction of the sanctuary at St. Januarius in Naples under Fr. Rings (who has now moved onto his reward as Pastor of St. Louis in Pittsford, after jackhammering the altar there this past Holy Week) you will most likely find your same story there – just different names. What I find particularly fascinating about Diane’s story is that what happened there is what happeened all over the DoR under Bishop Clark, only I don’t think it was ever so well-documented as the Father Rings/St. Januarius debacle is. And I am so glad. Becaue we need a record of the truth of what goes on here. We need something to counteract the Discean spin on things that is so well-published, the kind of spin exemplified in Ms. Housal’s words:

    “We want to thank all parishioners for your ongoing support, as we work together to strengthen the Catholic presence…here in the North East…We are excited about working together…Our dream is for all of us to experience a time full of grace, as we rally together to take advantage of this new opportunity for all of us to grow in faith, hope, and love…”

    And now on to the “Celebration!”. [“Not a Closing Mass!”]

    So Narcissistic to tell people to repeat back to you the exact spin they are supposed to put on their experience! The Narcissist tells you what you are supposed to think…

  45. avatar christian says:

    Diane Harris: I agree with your assessment of St. Mary’s in Rushville. How very sad. It comes across as dishonest and unfair to parishioners to actually proclaim it as closed. You have my sympathy.

  46. avatar christian says:

    brother of penance: AMEN to both of your previous posts!

  47. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    What you are seeing in the DOR is an example of radical clericalism which many groups, conservative as well as progressive, are attempting to diminish. The days of “Father is right when he is right and Father is right when he is wrong” have to soon end because the clerical attitude of arrogance,entitlement and dismissiveness is one of the major problems in the Church today !!!

  48. avatar brother of penance says:

    “The history of the secularization of religious schools shows that secularization comes with the loss by the faculty of its anchor in the founding religion.”

    http://projectsycamore.com/bulletins/110826.php is the link to the most recent Sycamore Trust bulletin which continues the conversation about the secularization of the University of Notre Dame.

    Particularily interesting is a video of Father Wilson Miscamble’s “stirring leading address at the 2009 Rally on campus organized by students in opposition to the honoring of President Obama”. You will discover a number of other links to this Holy Cross Priest’s articles on the secularization of Notre Dame and ” an extraordinary interview of Father Wilson Miscamble, C.S.C. by Kathyn Lopez of the National Catholic Register” entitled,“Saving Notre Dame’s Soul”.

    Perhaps the Sycamore Trust efforts to be the THE GUARDIAN OF THE GROTTO and TO PROTECT NOTRE DAME’S CATHOLIC IDENTITY will inform and inspire us who value the work of Cleansingfiredor.

    Enjoy http://projectsycamore.com/bulletins/110826.php

  49. avatar christian says:

    I would just like to report that Fr. Bob Werth of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish, gave an announcement this past Sunday regarding “The Celebration of the Sacred Life of the Community of St. Andrew Church” with all the solemnity, clarity, respect, and heartfelt emotion it deserved. I was glad he did so and only wished he approached the subject in that manner last week. The previous post was not an attack on him as an individual or upon his priesthood, but only upon the unusual and seemingly out of touch delivery of that news of a mass signaling the end of an era of worship in that holy space known as St. Andrew Church. I think there was a much better feeling and peace in the congregation, amidst our sorrowful circumstances, to have him readdress this occasion in the proper manner.


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