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A Catholic Deacon and Family Court Judge Belies His Faith

October 10th, 2013, Promulgated by benanderson

The article below appeared in the October 3, 2013 issue of the weekly National Catholic newspaper “The Wanderer” (201 Ohio St., St. Paul, MN 55107)- yearly subscription $75. It is reprinted here with permission from the author.


A Catholic Deacon and Family Court Judge Belies His Faith

James Likoudis

The City (Rochester’s Aternative Newspaper) featured an Interview (September 4-10, 2013) with now retired Monroe County Family Court Judge Anthony Sciolino, an ordained deacon of the diocese of Rochester, NY, which demonstrated his ignorance of and outright denials of Catholic doctrine together with his false revisionism of history resulting in his “scathing picture of the Catholic Church’s anti-Jewish bias over many centuries.’ His recent book ( The Holocaust, the Church and the Law of Unintended Consequences ) and his Interview simply vent his disenchantment with the Catholic Church and its alleged “Christian complicity in the Jewish Holocaust”. His book is is not serious scholarship but just another screed by a clerical dissenter blackening the reputation of the Catholic Church. He follows in the wake of Rolf Hochhuth, a former member of the Hitler Youth, and later Communist, who wrote his infamous play “The Deputy” which began the campaign to smear Pope Pius XII. Hochhuth and other anti-Catholic bigots (some calling themselves liberals) only confirm historian Arthur Schlesinger’s famous axiom that “Anti-Catholicism is the Anti-Semitism” of liberals and “secular progressives”. So from Judge Sciolono, we hear the same calumnies: the Catholic Church is anti-Semitic, the New Testament villifies the Jews, Pope Pius XII did nothing to oppose Hitler or save the Jews , and German Catholic leaders aided Hitler’s totalitarian regime. Forget the clear teaching of the Church that no Catholic can be anti-Semitic; that the head of the Church Pius XI condemned Nazism in a famous encyclical, that an enormous amount of documentation shows that Pius XII saved hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives, and that leading Catholic intellectuals such as the Jewish convert John Osterreicher, the philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand, and such theologians as Karl Thieme vigorously denounced Nazi racism and anti-Semitic discrimination while noting in the face of the Gestapo the Jews remained “most dear to God” because of their fathers. Sciolino’s simplistic and flawed analysis of anti-Semitism uttterly falls to distinguish between diverse intellectual and political movements: Anti-Semitism; Anti-Judaism; and Anti-Zionism. That a few German Catholics (even some dissenting priests) early favored Nazism only reveals their betrayal of Catholic teaching just as we have today dissenter-priests in the diocese of Rochester who betray Catholic doctrine. Similarly, one can not ignore Jews and Jewish organizations who continually attack the Catholic Church, promote atheism, do abortions, and promote contraception, homosexuality, same-sex marriages, and euthanasia and are seen to contradict the best traditions of Judaism. A real expert on the Holocaust, the Jewish scholar Lucy Dawidowicz has argued convincingly that the Holocaust was not the product of European Christianity but rather of European rejection of Christian and Catholic ideas of the person and the State. Pace Sciolino, historians have demonstrated that Hitler and Goebbels’ two major obsessions were the destruction of Jewry and the Catholic Church. An excellent antidote to Deacon Sciolino’s rants can be found in the book The Persecution of the Catholic Church in the Third Reich : Facts and Documents translated from the German (Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, Louisiana, 1973).

Judge Sciolino’s reception of a master’s degree from St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry does not impress in view of its faculty’s well-known departures from Catholic teachings. He may boast of having been ordained to the Catholic diaconate, but it was as a deacon that Judge Sciolino deviated from Catholic teachings on homosexuality by allowing (for the first time in NY State) homosexuals to adopt children. His participation in the scandalous 1997 Conference of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries (NACDLGM) hosted by Bishop Matthew Clark and the Diocese of Rochester singled him out further as an apologist for homosexuality in defiance of Catholic teaching. The Conference brought together priest, religious, and lay Homosexual activists and sympathizers from throughout the United States. It gave encouragement to the holding of other NACDLGM conferences as well as New Ways Ministry and Call to Action Conferences in other cities – all groups intent on changing the sexual morality of the Church. Sciolino writes the “primary function of the church is to help form the consciences of believers” while clearly rejecting the Church’s forming his conscience. He says “Catholicism is my DNA” while rejecting papal infallibility which is an article of Catholic faith. He distorts Vatican II’s teaching regarding the salvation of non-Catholics and contradicts Catholic doctrine opposed to the ordination of women to Holy Orders. He is, however, correct to observe that the Holocaust happened because too many Christians “failed to practice their faith.” Deacon/Judge Sciolino- to use his own words- has “talked the talk” of Catholicism, but “failed to walk the walk”. His book and his City Interview featuring unfortunate historical stereotypes constitute just the kind of anti-Catholic polemic that can seriously poison Catholic-Jewish relations.

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16 Responses to “A Catholic Deacon and Family Court Judge Belies His Faith”

  1. avatar ROBERT says:

    Tony needs to resign as a deacon and also go on a retreat to discern his religion and vocation. I trust that his judicial decisions were not compromised by his “current” state of mind? The AA should ask for his resignation immediately.

  2. avatar dockpete says:

    I’ll take a wild guess and assume Sciolino was a student, or protege of Charles Curran. Enough said.

  3. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    And this same thrological institute is alive and flourishing in the Diocese of Syracuse.

  4. avatar Bona says:

    The anti Nazi encyclical letter “Mit Brennender Sorge” (With Burning Anxiety) issued by Pope Pius XI — and secretly distributed in Germany by motorcycle couriers for presentation in Churches on Palm Sunday — was substantially drafted by Cardinal Pacelli who later became Pope Piux XII. Venerable Pope Pius XII was no anti-semite. Reasonable people, with benefit of hindsight, might quibble with some of the things he did or did not do relying upon his available facts and prudent but fallible assessments about what would be effective.

    No institution did more than the church to counter the Nazi ideology, nor earlier. And the church has no armies, just Swiss Guards. Read “Hitler, the War and the Pope” by historian Ronald J. Rychlak. It is well researched. Pope Pius XII also has considerable appreciation among dilligent and fair-minded Jewish scholars and leaders who have looked into this question. Read also “A Righteous Gentile” by Rabbi David G. Dalin. His actions saved some 80 thousand Italian Jews, maybe more.

    I don’t say the Rev. Mr. Sciolino should be silenced, but I do think he should be admonished by our diocesan leaders. Perhaps he has been. His alleged collaboration in interfaith dialog with Jewish community leaders who also happen to be abortion practicioners gives me burning anxiety. Abortion is a holocaust too.

    We can hope and pray that Venerable Pope Piux XII will be raised to sainthood some day. It may not happen soon. That is why this is called a “vale of tears.” Still can anyone deny that Pope Piux XII served in the chair of St. Peter during one of the most difficult intervals for the Papacy in living memory?

  5. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Admonished by diocesan leaders. That’s like the pot calling the kettle black

  6. avatar Ron says:

    I wrote to Bishop Cunningham and sent a copy of the City article a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t heard of any action or response – but I’m still hoping.

  7. avatar DanielKane says:

    Thank you Ben for this sighting. I hope and pray that the Deacon receives the spiritual, pastoral and intellectual support he needs. It is regrettable that the diaconate program here in the DoR is so weak despite its length to not expose the novel leanings of Deacon Sciolino and also recently the “Deacon – CEO” of a local parish who asked a well respected priest to leave so that he could be “the administrator he was called to be”.

    It is hard to imagine how superficial the spiritual direction and personal formation was in these men to have these two glaring deficits go unnoticed through ordination – a four or five year process. Ordination is not necessarily an academic achievement one receives for completing a program nor is it some kind of right granted to those who ask.

  8. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    The whole program is designed to teach dissident theology and to propagate internal change of the Catholic Church. Now you and I know this theology is weak, flawed and horrific but the propagators, and originators of this whole mess think the institute and its teachings are “the Cat’s meow”.

  9. avatar gaudium says:

    When Benedict XVI was elected, I realized how many times the commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” was violated by all of his detractors. The Panzer Cardinal was the gentlest, least-power hungry of all men. Now, I’m afraid, my brother deacon has forgotten the same commandment in regard to Pius XII.

  10. avatar militia says:

    I hope this isn’t too far out of line in posting here, but “belies his faith” got me thinking. We can “belie” faith by what we do, but also by what we don’t do. It seems to me that we don’t often see priests (or deacons) in individual prayer much anymore. Why is that?

    When I was growing up, after Mass the priest would often return to a pew to offer his individual thanksgiving, and we got the idea that running off to the next scheduled event wasn’t the most important thing (unless of course someone needed anointing, or confession.) I remember priests sometimes joining in the Rosary after Mass, or sitting on a bench outside, reading his breviary. Sometimes, if I stopped in for a visit during the day, a priest might also be praying before the Tabernacle.

    Yes, I know there are fewer priests and therefore they are much busier, but as Mother Teresa said — we are never too busy for prayer. And I’m not saying they aren’t praying as much, (although some surveys have reported that nearly half of all priests don’t pray the Divine Office daily), but just that they don’t seem to be as visible in prayer as they used to be. Perhaps they go off to their private chapels in the rectory? But that brings up my issue — the lack of visibility in showing the importance of prayer. And I think, in part, that is related to the noise and banter — that, somehow, the church isn’t a place for praying, but rather for social interaction. It also seems related to the apparent demeaning of devotional prayer post Vatican II, and of the word ‘pious’ becoming a slur rather than a commendation.

    In one place, the priest usually begins Mass with “Let’s get this show on the road,” said loudly over the people’s conversations. Yet, at another, the priest sits in the pew before Mass and it is very quiet. At a third place, the priest ends every Sunday Mass with his latest collection of stupid jokes, completely destroying the holiness of the moment. People there are enraged, but afraid to say anything to him.

  11. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Malitia,

    Point well taken. You never see a priest or nun reciting their “office”. I wonder if they even do that anymore.

    Bishop Sheen said that if a priest cannot spend one hour a day in Adoration then they are deficient in their vocation. If priests are “too busy” to do these things, then they have to “unbusy” themselves and get back to basics.

    I wonser if this is the manifestation of a horisontally orientated Church, where the real church is orientated to the Divine.

  12. avatar Scott W. says:

    You never see a priest or nun reciting their “office”. I wonder if they even do that anymore.

    I remember someone doing an article title something like, “Advice for new bishops” a while back. One of the tips was to visit incognito to all the parishes in the diocese. If you catch a priest making his holy hour, make him a monsignor on the spot.

  13. avatar gaudium says:

    My pastor is very faithful to his Office and also to a daily Holy Hour. He is a model of piety and tireless service, especially to the sick. It is an undeserved privilege to serve under him.

  14. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Sometimes, it’s tough for a priest to say his office after mass. Upon leaving tha altar I can sometimes see hordes of people in the sacristy hobnobbing, talking shop etc. Sometimes the priests are completely absorbed in this.

  15. avatar ROBERT says:

    Really, what does all this other stuff have to do with the original article? We should be on track! [PS: Why don’t we remove to Perry countdown?]

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