Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘St. Bernard’s’

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

August 20th, 2011, Promulgated by b a

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

Sr. Pat on Sexual Ethics (part 7)

July 15th, 2011, Promulgated by b a


A reader who recently listened to the Sr. Pat Theology on Tap session (which I reported on about a year ago) transcribed the entire audio source. This was done for a research project on teachings that undermine the Catholic Church and Faith from “within” and an exercise in writing commentary. This reader graciously sent this transcription to me so that I could post it here. In full disclosure, I will let you know that the voice of m1 is yours truly. Please remember that my remarks (as well as those of others) were off the cuff and in a somewhat heated environment.   There were certainly things I wish I had said differently. Nevertheless, it’s not difficult to clearly see the clashing of 2 distinct world views.  Click the link below to see the entire transcript or just read what I’ve snipped below (which are the more egregious statements).  [my comments in red]

Transcript of Recorded Theology on Tap, July 7, 2010, Sheridan’s Irish Pub, Rochester
Sr. Patricia Schoelles, President of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry, on Sexual Morality

Charles Curran, a priest from our diocese. Now he’s lost his job a couple times, but the Bishop of Rochester has endorsed him as a priest, so he’s still a Catholic and a practicing priest. But he thinks we have to change, the Church should teach, change its teaching on seven [???] Divorce and remarriage is one of them, homosexuality is one, masturbation. Masturbation is seen as an intrinsically evil act still, because again it, its you know, thwarting the intention of the sexual faculty. So that’s one. What’s another one? Divorce & remarriage, sterilization, artificial contraception.

there are three passages in the New Testament, three passages in the New Testament that do the same thing. Jesus isn’t quoted as having said anything about homosexuality but Paul did in 3 catalogues of sins. So, and that’s right. If your interpretation of Scripture is, this is, you know this is absolutely and directly to me God’s word, I don’t think there’s any question beyond that. You know. There are those interpreters of Scripture though who would say the Hebrew Bible is a collection of books as is the New Testament a collection of books written by communities with certain agenda in mind. And so the interpretation of those six passages has become, you know, one of the points of discussion in this conversation. One teacher I heard, one guy who was talking on this by the name of Casey Lapata who’s a local guy actually, and he said, ‘had the knowledge been available to the writers of the New or the Old Testament that we all possess a sexual orientation, we didn’t choose it, and we can’t change it.
You know in the Old Testament it says you can stone your… you know if your neighbor [???] yea you should do this you should smite your neighbor if they work on the Sabbath. The Scripture has to be interpreted. [And as Catholics whose job is it to interpret the Scriptures?  I believe that would be the teaching authority of the Church.  And when the Church interprets Scripture and provides teachings for us, what are the protocols for deciding not to accept that teaching?  When the Bible says something we don’t like, is a Ph.D allowed to interpret it in a way more satisfactory to their liking?]

But people are trying to make the case that
perhaps gay sex is acceptable in some circumstances. Maybe masturbation’s not always intrinsically evil maybe, all this kind of stuff. But I don’t shy away from the conversation.I think that at least in an academic setting those sort of conversations ought to go on because it helps us understand things better.

Reading this transcript brought to mind a January 2011 article in First Things.

The Ruins of Discontinuity: Looking for answers to the fragmentation of Catholic theology in America.
by Reinhard Hütter

(I don’t really know what’s up with First Things articles online, but I couldn’t actually get the text of the article online, so I typed the below snippet from the print edition. It’s certainly possible that there are typos).

Ultimately, what is at stake – as Augustine realized during his own lengthy struggle with the trendy theologies of his day – is our heart’s desire. We will not find what we seek in Jesus Christ unless we put ourselves under the tutelage of teh “church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth,” for “great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion” (1 Timothy 3:15-16). As Newman reminds us again and again, “private judgment” cannot reliably interpret the Holy Spirit’s work in Christ’s Body.

And so Catholic theology cannot establish itself as a de facto counter-magisterium, remaining in splendid isolation from the Church. Nor should it seek to win a lasting standing in the secular academy that offers it a career path like that of any other academic profession. Nor, finally, will Catholic theology flourish if it is transmuted into “religious studies” to marked its remnants in a post-Christian society. Whatever one thinks about the best way to give coherent and even sophisticated shape to Catholic theology, we must acknowledge that the Church herself gives us our theological task: to assist the bishops in communicating, explaining, defending, and understanding the faith that comes form the apostles. As Henri de Lubac emphasized already in 1971, we embrace the gospel not as isolated individuals ensconced in the competitions of the academy but under the tutelage of what de Lubac called “La maternité de l’Église,” the motherhood of the Church.

For those critics who said I was stretching the truth by attempting to make a connection between the progressive bent in the Diocese of Rochester and the recent passing of contrary-to-nature unions in New York State, remember this was ONE YEAR AGO (not 13).  No action has been taken.  Sr. Pat Schoelles remains the president of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. This is the school that trains nearly ALL of our deacons and lay leaders

Also of interest – as I was googling while writing this post, I came across this essay by James Likoudis:
Rochester’ Dissenter Sr. Patricia Schoelles, CSJ

St. Bernard’s Graduating Class ’11

May 8th, 2011, Promulgated by b a

What kind of influence does the ultra-progressive St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry have on the Diocese of Rochester?  Too much.

St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry, a Roman Catholic graduate and professional school in Rochester, will hold its commencement ceremony on May 13 at 4 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Degrees will be granted to 23 candidates from St. Bernard’s Rochester and Albany programs. These students have completed their study for the master of divinity, master of arts in theological studies, master of arts in pastoral studies, a graduate certificate in pastoral studies. In addition, 10 individuals will be receiving Certificates marking their successful completion of the certificate program. Many of these men and women are already leaders in both Rochester and Albany Dioceses, working in positions as diverse as parish life director, hospital chaplain and youth ministers.

The Church the women – and the bishop – want

April 28th, 2011, Promulgated by Mike

The following was originally published on my old blog on May 24, 2010.

Some anonymous comments to recent posts have essentially accused Cleansing Fire staffers of criticizing Bishop Clark without real cause. I think it’s time to once again allow His Excellency to speak for himself.


Six years ago Boston College’s The Church in the 21st Century Initiative hosted a conference entitled Envisioning the Church Women Want.

One of the panels at the conference was called When Bishops Listened to Women: The Women’s Pastoral 12 Years Later. This panel was comprised of Sr. Mary Ann Hinsdale, Dr. Susan Muto, Dr. Pheme Perkins and Bishop Matthew Clark. Video and audio of this session can be found here.

[5/2/2011 Note: The original links on the BC site no longer work; audio,however, is available here.]

After some introductory remarks by Sr. Hinsdale, Dr. Muto spent several minutes reviewing the history of what she termed the “Women’s Pastoral.” This was to be a USCCB Pastoral Letter outlining the concerns of women in the Church. Although it went through several revisions, the USCCB ultimately declined to adopt it.

Dr. Muto was followed by Bishop Clark. After some initial comments the bishop launched into the heart of his talk. What follows in blue is my transcript of His Excellency’s talk beginning at the 23:25 mark:

I thought I might use my time this morning in a more future oriented way and to that end, that is, envisioning the Church women want, I thought, well, if I’m going to be consistent with what I believe in and the spirit of this conference, I’d better ask some women what they want. So I took the question to our St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry, which is a wonderful, small, graduate level school that we have. It’s a great resource for us. It’s president is Sister Patricia Schoelles, a Sister of St. Joseph and there are two full time faculty members who are women and some men who are [full time] and a number of adjuncts who are women. “So,” I said, “what do we want to say to the people at Boston College?”

Let me share with you their thinking, which I want to say up front is very much my own [although] I might use a different word here or there. I would like to do that with one concrete image of the Church women want offered by one of the people I polled and six basic desires they have.

This brief story is by one of the women who teaches at St. Bernard’s and [it’s] her experience at a Sunday liturgy at St. Gabriel’s Parish in Hammondsport, which is a small community on the south end of Keuka Lake, one of our splendid Finger Lakes.

There must have been thirty people taking leadership roles at the liturgy. A male, a priest originally from Sri Lanka, and a female, a sister, [the] pastoral administrator of the parish, led the congregation with the sense that neither was simply imported or a token figure. They seemed to invite others to assume a role in the service as well. The impression was given that this is our Church and we care for it and actively participate in it.

From the cantors to the preacher – the preacher a layman in training for diaconal ordination – to those who collected the song books and cleared the pews afterward, people participated, they cared, greeted each other and assumed a variety of roles in tending to whatever physical tasks needed to be done for the celebration. The spiritual communion, then, was so obvious and easy to enter into.

This isn’t a big city parish filled with sophisticated people well versed in theories about emerging roles of women, but it was hard to imagine anyone sitting back complaining that “she shouldn’t be doing this or that” because of an imposed or inherited view of what people are or are not allowed or intended to do. Instead, the clear sense was that this is our Church, we have a role in it, we own it, we care, and we are community in Christ.

Leadership clearly comes from within the parish itself. I suppose for those who prefer liturgy that seems more like theater – the leaders providing a program for the congregation – this would not have been as satisfying. But for me the kiss of peace alone in that parish was close to the most important experience of church that I have had in years.

That’s the kind of Church she wants and I think she expresses that want very beautifully out of her own experience.

I’d like to mention, as I said – I’ll mention them very briefly – six qualities, six encouraging notes, that these women look for in the Church.

The first relates to how the Church formulates its proclamations and teachings and I would say under that category they have three strong desires: First, that their experience be heard and honored, not argued with, but absorbed and integrated into the thinking of those who hear. Secondly, that a broad spectrum of voices should be heard before coming to conclusions that relate to teaching and polity of significance. They include specifically poor women and men, abused women, abandoned mothers, divorced women, gay, lesbian, single people, now thought to be absent from this kind of discourse, leaving us deprived of their experience and their insights. Thirdly in that basic theme that they seek to develop, a Church that is diverse and affirming of all, welcoming those who have been excluded, including varying theological perspectives, people whose backgrounds offer richness that clerics alone cannot possibly hope to have, and all manner of gifts and talents and life experiences. So, how the Church formulates its proclamations and teachings.

Secondly, how the Church deals with diverse opinion among the faithful: They want a Church that deals with issues and people and divergent theological opinion in loving and just ways, rather than what may seem to be a condemnatory manner or a dictatorial kind of manner. Many long for a Church that affirms the gifts of all members as we struggle to form communities dedicated to loving one another and building the kingdom of God.

Thirdly, on theological work that needs to be done in service of the Church women want: In terms of the theological tasks they’re most concerned about they ask for the development of a more adequate theological anthropology, one that will adequately account for gender distinction in integrating our understanding of “imago Dei” and “in persona Christi”. With particular emphasis they stress the need for that kind of reflection and inclusion in matters of sex and sexuality which does not sufficiently include consideration of women’s experience.

Next, the exercise of authority in the Church: The general call is for a decentralized authority better able to serve the Church and the Gospel we seek to follow and embody. This includes a climate of honest and open dialog, granting to local churches – dioceses – the right to exercise their own identities, to call their own leaders, and respond pastorally to concerns and realities that arise in a given place and time and which may not be common to all places. Disagreement on matters other than creedal statements should not be feared, but a community of discourse in which truth is sought and celebrated should be encouraged and nourished.

Fifth, on Church activity and action: The Church needs to consider its call to reach out to those in need and to grant increasing prominence to action on behalf of justice as a constitutive part of preaching the Gospel. We need to search for ways to work toward genuine healing and not just sustenance for those who suffer from sickness, abuse, poverty, addiction, etc., but really to find remedies and cures for that. A Church that simply “maintains” and leaders who focus on extraneous or superficial goals are in no way the Church that women want.

Next, on the Church as a source of spirituality and help in leading a Gospel-centered spiritual life: They make considerable reference – and, I think, understandably so – to the stresses of modern life: too little time, too many expectations, the need for grounding and a firm sense of self and purpose, the desire to serve others while fostering mutual love, justice and responsibilities in our relationships and in society. Women want help from the Church in formulating a sense of priorities, in focusing and developing habits that would help lead a balanced life amid competing demands and increasing insecurity from any number of sources. Women I have talked with expressed the need to approach the Church as a community whose rituals and celebrations are rich in the authentic tradition that nurtures life and genuine relationship with God. Under that rubric of spirituality in a Gospel-centered life, if we fail to image God in appropriate ways, if we cannot assume the role of pilgrim Church assisting the disciples of Christ in their call to be present to those bearing the fears and anxieties of our time, then we will have forsaken our call and our mission.

Those are the main themes that emerged in my conversations with the St. Bernard’s people. They are deeply consonant with the themes I have heard for most of the 25 years that I have served as bishop.

I thought of giving this a good fisk but decided instead to leave that as an exercise for the reader.  Suffice it for me to say that this is, in rather vivid detail, the Church that the women teaching at St. Bernard’s would like to have – and would like the rest of us to have as well, whether we want it or not.  And, it seems safe to assume, this is also the vision these women have been inculcating in their students, whether those students be in training for lay pastoral ministry or in diaconal formation.

Also, since Bishop Clark says that he shares this vision – with the exception of “a different word here or there” – this is his vision also.  This is a well fleshed out picture of what he has been working toward for so many years now.

My thanks to the people at Boston College for recording this.  While I am sure it wasn’t their intent, this serves as the most detailed explanation for the ongoing collapse of the Diocese of Rochester that I have yet to see.

Sr. Pat on the New Translation

December 8th, 2010, Promulgated by b a

The radically progressive Sr. Patricia A. Schoelles, SSJ, PhD (previously heard from here espousing her pro-homosexual agenda, pro-women’s ordination, anti-Catholic views) has shared some groundbreaking insight into the new translation of the Roman Missal:

Sister Patricia Schoelles, president of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry in Rochester, N.Y., says liturgy “has a formative influence on us over time.”

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.

Schoelles says the newest translation of the Catholic Church’s Missal actually retreats from some gender-inclusive language. She attributes this to the patriarchal hierarchy of the church–since women are not able to be ordained, they are not present when these decisions are reached.

Reflecting on today’s feast, I always find it funny how people can call the Church anti-woman.  It boggles my imagination because according to Church teaching only one creature has ever been preserved from the stain of the original sin (hint: it wasn’t a man).  Two fruits of this grace given to Our Lady that are most striking to me today are humility and faith.  Pray that well all (especially our diocesan leaders) have an increase of both of these.

To answer those who would say, “Why bother posting such negative progressive drivel?  What good can come of it?”  Here’s one suggestion: perhaps a small percentage of our 1,000 daily readers will write letters up the chain asking for the removal of Sr. Pat from her post as President of St. Bernard’s.  How can we expect our diocese to be anything but the pro-homosexual agenda, pro-women’s ordination, anti-Catholic organization that it is when the ones in charge of educating so many of our diocesan leaders are themselves radical progressives.  Pray and write to Rome that we may be blessed with leaders and educators that are faithful to Magisterial teaching (some address can be found here).

Sr. Pat on Sexual Ethics (part 1)

July 8th, 2010, Promulgated by b a


UPDATE: If you want to cut to the chase and listen to the full audio, here it is:
If you want a transcript, click here.

Last night I had the joy of attending my second Theology on Tap session. Although Sheridan’s Irish Pub was a good host, I must say that the content was not nearly as good as the one I attended last year. Instead of making this one long post which would probably take me weeks to do and bore you all to death, I’m going to follow Bernie’s lead and post it as a series.

In one discussion I had after the session ended, this person (with whom I enjoyed talking) mentioned to me that they were surprised that someone of my theological viewpoint would be found in a bar.  I assured them of my love for beer and in that spirit I am currently sipping a Genny Cream Ale as I write this.  That’s right folks – only the best for this CF blogger.  I should also note that my specific theological viewpoint is simply Catholic.

This Theology on Tap session featured as the speaker Sr. Patricia Schoelles, PhD, SSJ. Sr. Pat is the president of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry.  Remember folks, your CMA dollars are hard at work here.  This is the person responsible for training many of our parish leaders.  From what I heard from Sr. Pat, it seems as though she does not see the Catholic Church as a holy institution created and sustained by an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God.  Instead, she presents it as a man-made institution as an end in and of itself.  If you’re skeptical of the assertion I’ve just made, rest assured that you will have the opportunity to come to your own conclusion as you listen for yourself.

My reason for attending this session was twofold; 1) to see if St. Bernard’s teaching is really as suspect as I’ve heard people say it is and  2) to share the positive impact that John Paul II’s Theology of the Body has had on my life. To accomplish the latter, I printed out 30 copies of this flyer.

Sr. Pat will say a few things that are problematic and don’t square with Church teaching.  I will address those things as we work through this series.  However, I think what’s much more problematic is not what she said, but what she didn’t say.  An analogy can be made to sins of commission versus sins of omission.  Consistent with most of the messages presented by this diocese, God is an afterthought.  In my life experience thus far I can tell you that when I take my eyes off of Jesus and focus only on the problem at hand I find myself faltering just as St. Peter did.  I’m as baffled now, as I was then, as to how a Catholic can give a talk on sexual ethics w/out even mentioning John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, but that’s exactly what Sr. Pat did. She presents Church teaching in about the most negative light you possibly could.

Without further ado, let’s get to it.  This introductory audio clip will probably be the longest in this series.  Sr. Pat has already begun talking before the audio recorder was turned on, but if I remember correctly I don’t believe we missed much.  At the end of the series, I’ll post the session in its entirety.  Don’t be turned off by the quality of the audio at the beginning.  It either gets better or your ears will adjust.


So there you have it, folks. The 70s called – they want their theology back. According to Sr. Pat, there are 2 sources for the Church’s teaching on human sexuality:

1) Order of the Entity.  (the good of society and economics)

2) Natural Law.  And of course this was an extremely primitive and medieval understanding of natural law unenlightened with the biological and psychological scientific data that we have available for our use today.

I assume most of us are educated enough to realize what’s missing here, but I’ll let you chew on it first.  Feel free to offer your opinions in the comments.  Here’s a hint to get us started.

You may also have noticed Jefferson Airplane’s Somebody to Love playing in the background:

When the truth is found to be lies
and all the joys within you dies
don’t you want somebody to love
don’t you need somebody to love
wouldn’t you love somebody to love
you better find somebody to love

Why, yes, I do want somebody to love and I’m sure glad He loved me first.  His name, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.  As I listen to this again, I find myself paying more attention to the background music.  Another very fitting message you’ll hear is from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Byrds’ rendition of Turn! Turn! Turn!.  Surely the hosts preplanned this music!

Parallel Hierarchy Update

May 4th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

St. Bernard’s Institute of Dissent and Protestant Studies will be awarding degrees to 17 candidates on May 7th at Sacred Heart Cathedral (interesting location…).

From the Catholic Courier:

“Fordham University theology professor Bradford E. Hinze will be the featured speaker at St. Bernard?s School of Theology and Ministry?s 2010 commencement at 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 7, at Sacred Heart Cathedral [Bad enough that our churches are used for dancing and plays, but for award ceremonies? Also, is there some message being sent by having this take place at the Cathedral?], 296 Flower City Park, Rochester.

Hinze specializes in the study of modern and postmodern Catholic theology, intercultural communications and interreligious dialogue [The trifecta of progressive obsessions].

During the graduation ceremony, St. Bernard’s officials will grant degrees to 17 candidates from school’s Rochester and Albany programs. Three will earn master?s degrees in divinity, two will earn master?s degrees in theological studies, 11 will earn master?s degrees in pastoral studies and one will earn a graduate certificate in pastoral studies. Many of the graduates already serve in leadership roles in the Rochester and Albany dioceses, and work in parish centers, hospitals and schools.

“At St. Bernard?s, we are witnessing the emergence of whole new professions for dedicated laypeople who choose to take up a career in the church [The diocese may be giving false hope to these people, who could be in for a rude awakening come 2012],” said Sister of St. Joseph Patricia Schoelles, president of St. Bernard?s and associate professor of Christian ethics.”