Father Michael Pfleger Removed and Suspended

Wednesday, April 27, AD 2011

Cardinal George is to the left and Father Pfleger is to the right.

Updates at the bottom. . .

The Chicago Tribune and WBEZ are reporting that Cardinal George of Chicago has removed from his parish of Saint Sabina and suspended Father Michael Pfleger sacramental priestly faculties ultimately due to his disobedience.

In a public radio show Father Pfleger threatened to leave the Catholic Church if he were to be reassigned to a Catholic High School by Cardinal George, his archdiocesan archbishop.

Cardinal George was disappointed in this particular response, “If that is truly your attitude, you have already left the Catholic Church and are therefore not able to pastor a Catholic parish(.)”

A Catholic priest’s inner life is governed by his promises, motivated by faith and love, to live chastely as a celibate man and to obey his bishop. . .Breaking either promise destroys his vocation and wounds the Church. . .With this letter, your ministry as pastor of Saint Sabina Parish and your sacramental faculties as a priest of the Archdiocese are suspended.

An “associate” minister of Saint Sabina’s Church, Kimberly Lymore, promised to have an “official” response from the Saint Sabina “leadership” to Cardinal George’s actions.

Well I have to say is Father Pfleger had certainly pushed the boundaries of patience on this one.  To say that this was a “shock” or unexpected would be disingenuous of Father Pfleger.

Cardinal George is well within his authority as an apostle of the Church to govern his flock as stated in his role as Archbishop.

Obedience is certainly expected of all archdiocesan priests, but to have Father Pfleger not only disobey the wishes of his archbishop, but publicly threaten to leave the Church if he were to be reassigned to another post went beyond disobedience.

Pray for Father Pfleger, Cardinal George, and the parish of Saint Sabina’s.


ThePulp.it has a roundup of the coverage on the suspension of Father Michael Pfleger from the Catholic blogosphere and the secular media here.


Hat tip to Chris Johnson of the Midwest Conservative Journal.


Update I: Here is the letter Cardinal George handed to Father Pfleger personally simultaneously telling him he doesn’t want to ‘hear it’ about his options.  For the letter click here.

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24 Responses to Father Michael Pfleger Removed and Suspended

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  • It’s about damned time!!!!

  • I pray Cardinal George’s actions will be put to good use and become an occasion for sober reflection and renewal for Fr. Pfleger and the entire parish of Saint Sabina. May Fr. Pfleger return to obedience to Christ and His Church.

  • Fair enough.

    Independently from the controversy itself, to threaten to “leave the church” if one doesn’t get his own way is not acceptable in a priest. To do so publicly is even worse.


  • Father “Flakey” has been asking for this for a very long time. I predict that he will take Saint Sabina’s now out of the Catholic Church. He has been a de facto one man church for years in any case.

  • My question is: Why did it take so long to remove this flake? Its been known for 30 years that he was a flamin’ liberal, social justice radical! Lets see if Cdl George will have the guts to stand by his actions.

  • This reminds me of George Stallings a few years back. I hope that Pfleger doesn’t take anyone with him.

  • To be fair, it would be a shock to finally be held accountable after how many years of being a national clown.

  • I agree with Stephen E Dalton, there is no room in the Church for justice! I desire Mercy not Justice Christ said! There are a few more priests and bishops that seem a little too just for my tastes as well. Christ didn’t care about the poor “they will always be with you”… why should a priest be wasting his time with poor inner city African Americans when he could be in the rectory brushing up on his Latin and do some real good for the faithful.

  • No doubt Patrick it is simple racism that accounts for the action of the Cardinal, rather than the fact that Father “Flakey” has been in frequent defiance of his superiors throughout his three decades at Saint Sabinas, has often threatened to go into schism if he were removed from Saint Sabinas and, among other charming incidents that we in Illinois know well, has been involved in the following:

    “Pfleger generated controversy by inviting Al Sharpton to speak at a Mass during Black History Month celebrations. Cardinal Francis George disapproved of Sharpton’s appearance, due to Sharpton’s support of abortion. Sharpton was also a presidential candidate at the time, and archdiocese officials were concerned that having a political candidate speak in church would cause them to lose their tax-exempt status. However, George decided that trying to stop Sharpton from coming “would be a futile gesture and a waste of effort”.”

    “In May 2007, During a Rainbow/PUSH Coalition protest outside a suburban Chicago gun shop, Pfleger was accused of threatening the life of the owner, John Riggio. The Illinois State Rifle Association released a tape where Pfleger was heard telling the assembled crowd, “He’s the owner of Chuck’s. John Riggio. R-i-g-g-i-o. We’re going to find you and snuff you out… you know you’re going to hide like a rat. You’re going to hide but like a rat we’re going to catch you and pull you out.” Pfleger later claimed his use of the phrase “snuff you out” was misinterpreted.”

    “Cardinal George rebuked Pfleger, saying, “Publicly delivering a threat against anyone’s life betrays the civil order and is morally outrageous, especially if this threat came from a priest.” Pfleger claimed that he did not intend to use the word “snuff” as a slang term for “kill”, but rather as a substitute for “pull”, as he used later in his statement.”

    “On May 25, 2008, Pfleger gave a sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ, then Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s church, where he made controversial statements concerning Senator Hillary Clinton, Obama’s opponent for the Democratic Party nomination. Pfleger said, “I really believe that she just always thought, ‘This is mine. I’m Bill’s wife. I’m white, and this is mine. I just gotta get up and step into the plate.’ Then out of nowhere came, ‘Hey, I’m Barack Obama,’ and she said, ‘Oh, damn! Where did you come from? I’m white! I’m entitled! There’s a black man stealing my show!'” He then pretended to wipe tears from his face, a reference to Clinton’s emotional speech before the New Hampshire primary, and added, “She wasn’t the only one crying. There was a whole lot of white people crying.”

    “After hearing about Pfleger’s remarks, Obama said he was “deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger’s divisive, backward-looking rhetoric”. Pfleger later released a statement through St. Sabina that read, “I regret the words I chose Sunday. These words are inconsistent with Sen. Obama’s life and message, and I am deeply sorry if they offended Sen. Clinton or anyone else who saw them.” On May 31, 2008, Obama resigned his membership in Trinity Church, saying that his campaign had caused the church to receive excessive media attention. On June 1, 2008, Pfleger released a longer apology to the St. Sabina parish regarding the incident and its aftermath.”

    “On June 3, 2008, Cardinal George asked Pfleger to take a disciplinary leave of absence from St. Sabina. George said in a statement, “I have asked Father Michael Pfleger, Pastor of St. Sabina’s Parish, to step back from his obligations there and take leave for a couple of weeks from his pastoral duties, effective today. Fr. Pfleger does not believe this to be the right step at this time. While respecting his disagreement, I have nevertheless asked him to use this opportunity to reflect on his recent statements and actions in the light of the Church’s regulations for all Catholic priests. I hope that this period will also be a time away from the public spotlight and for rest and attention to family concerns.” Pfleger resumed his parish duties on June 16, 2008.”

    “On April 11, 2010, Pfleger delivered a 70-minute sermon in which he said the Apostles “had run out on” Jesus. “They had turned their backs on Him. They had left the One they had been with for three years, 24/7, and they ran away from Him when He most needed them. Only John, at the foot of the Cross and the women. That’s why there should be woman priests. That’s why there should be married priests. That’s why there should be women bishops and women cardinals.” The Archdiocese of Chicago later issued a statement by Pfleger in which he apologized for his remarks but reaffirmed his support for women’s ordination. Pfleger said on his Facebook fan page that he was told to apologize, despite still holding those opinions. Pfleger denounced critics of his comments as “ignorant haters” who took his homily “out of context” and used them “for their own particular motives.”

  • Patrick, there’s plenty of room inthe Church for true justice. There is, IMHO, no room for a demagogue who stirs up class, racial, and religious hatred nder the guise of so-called “social justice”.
    Don, thanks for the background on Fr Flakey. This man needs a psychiatrist!

  • Once upon a time, persons with religious vocations made vows of chastity, obedience and poverty.

    St. Che, Pray for us!

  • Fr. PFleger is a great example of Jesus Christ and his teachings. He should have left a long time ago. Fr. Pfleger now has the opportunity to open his Own Church.God would be pleased with him. May God bless you Father Pfeger. Go out and Preach the GOOD NEWS !!!

  • Wow !! I am truly shocked to see so many haters on a Catholic Web Site.
    Did you forget “WWJD”, What would Jesus do ? Apparently you did.
    And to say that there is no room in the Catholic Church for social justice ?? That’s totally false. Social justice is one of the main teachings of the Catholic Church.

    While I don’t agree with everyhing Fr. Pflager has said and done, and feel that he has been out of line several times, I think there is no doubt that he has good intentions, and has made many positive changes in his community. That being said though, he is still a Catholic Priest, and is bound by the same set of rules as any other proest. He can’t make up his own rules.

    So if you are true Catholics, how about praying for Fr. Pflager and his congrgation, and for Cardinal George, instead of being haters. Please !!!
    Calling him Fr. Flakey ?? Really ?? Do you think Our Lord would be proud of you for that ??

  • Fr. Pfleger now has the opportunity to open his Own Church.

    Yes, a great example of Christ’s life and mission – taking his marbles and going home.

    That being said though, he is still a Catholic Priest, and is bound by the same set of rules as any other proest. He can’t make up his own rules.

    Yes, and therefore most of what you have just written is therefore kind of silly, don’t you think? Fr. Pfleger is the disobedient one, not those calling him out for his behavior. That you are more concerned about the tone of those who disapprove of this man than in his actions is quite revealing.

    Oh, and adding additional exclamation points and question marks doesn’t make you sound much more insightful.

  • Did you forget “WWJD”, What would Jesus do ?

    What would Jesus do to someone who misused his authority as a representative of JESUS to 1) promote a literal baby-murder supporting member of Caesar’s crowd, 2) kept bringing scandal onto the Church, 3) was publicly spreading false teachings, 4) metaphorically flipped off the just authority over him, metaphorically doing the same to Jesus?

    Um… My imagination doesn’t go that far, but I’m thinking that the money changers might be willing to commiserate.

  • “Calling him Fr. Flakey ?? Really ?? Do you think Our Lord would be proud of you for that ??”

    Perhaps not. Christ might have preferred that I used some of the terms that He used: whited sepulcher, serpent, viper, etc. “Father Flakey” seems rather mild in comparison, perhaps too mild. Thanks for the correction T. Doyle!

  • What would Jesus do?

    Matthew 7:22-23 gives the answer:

    “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

  • WWJD? He might have taken a knotted cord to Father Fleger and ejected him from His Father’s House.

  • Whatever it is they’re teaching over there at St. Sabina’s, it sure the heck isn’t how to spell.

  • Stephen,
    You accuse Fr Pfleger of being a flaming liberal, social justice radical as if thats a bad thing. I guess if you are white, male and catholic in chicago social justice is a threat to your racist way of life. Father Pfleger is hated for one thing and one thing only in chicago, his commitment to the African American Community. It is a well known fact that the Chicago Catholic Community is one of the Most viral racist nests in the country. White catholics in chicago have such a bad reputation that I am embarassed to say I am catholic in other parts of the country because I am always asked how I could be black and catholic in chicago. I always respond by saying it is different for me I belong to St Sabina!

  • RadCat, I do not live in Chicago. I’m male, but I’m not “white”. I’m a Catholic of multi-racial ancestory, (Jew, Arab, sub-saharan African, Turkish, Scot-Irish, English, Spanish, Portuguse, Italian etc.) who’s ancestors practised Judaism.
    You are correct that your kind of “social justice” is a threat to my way of life. I am afraid of a fanatic like Fr. Pfleger who stirs up the very racial hatred that he’s supposed to be preaching against. He supports abortion. He’s for Obamacare which will destroy my health care. In general, he’s just a radical, socialist, Alinskyist who wants to throw his weight around thinking he’s a big shot.
    Finally, you don’t even know me, but you presume to call me racist? If so, why did I contribute to a reward for the capture and arrest of unknown suspects who spray-painted racial slurs on a house and two cars against two little Chinese girls with Down syndrone? This revolting incident happened in Elmwood, Il, the town my ancestors settled and helped found in 1830. I’m proud to be an Elmwood decendant, it’s a pity you’re so ashamed of being from Chicago.

  • Hey Radical Catholic, do I get to point out that Pleger has long been a disgrace since I am part Cherokee, or does my white blood prevent me from pointing out the obvious?

  • Radical Catholic,

    Don’t you find it a contradiction to be a Catholic if the Catholic Church is so offensive to you?

    God bless.

Filial Responsibility Laws and the Fourth Commandment

Friday, September 3, AD 2010

Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land the LORD, your God, is giving you. — Exodus 20:12

The Fourth Commandment is most often interpreted as a directive for children to obey their parents and, by extension, for persons of all ages to obey lawful authorities. It has also been interpreted to mean that children remain obligated to respect, honor, and love their parents even after they reach the age of majority and are no longer bound to obey them.

Moreover, other passages in Scripture make it clear that this commandment carries with it a certain level of responsibility to care for parents who have become elderly or disabled:

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12 Responses to Filial Responsibility Laws and the Fourth Commandment

  • One problem is assessing the degree to which adult children can and should be held responsible.

    1. It is atypical for members of the current generation of elderly to have any kind of long term care insurance. The full force of expenses fall on the assets of the family.

    2. The minority who are admitted to nursing homes for aught but temporary rehabilitation are there (if I am not mistaken) a mean of two years or so. The cost for such would be ruinous for all but a few families. Mean annual charges for residence in a nursing home run to $104,000 here in Upstate New York.

    3. Care at home is agreeable, but it will commonly require some adult to give up their employment (which in turn impairs the ability of the family to support any future institutional care).

    4. Filial responsibility assumes something that is commonly but not universally true: that the infirm and addled parent will co-operate with their children in arranging various aspects of their care.

    5. Adult children are not legal guardians of their parents. An elder lawyer of my acquaintance recently informed me that guardianship proceedings are wretchedly expensive, emotionally wrenching, and will at times fail for the plaintiff.

    You have to be very careful with this sort of thing and see to it that structural mal-adjustments are removed (points 4 & 5), transactions costs (lawyers’ fees) are brought to a minimum, and an understanding is arrived at as to what portion of the assets of adult children can be attached and what sort of condition the parent must be in before institutional care is considered advisable. I have known people who sacrificed a great deal for their infirm parents (an engineer of my acquaintance has not worked for 14 years). I have also known elderly who were perfectly pig-headed and unmanageable by those around them.

  • Should their be penalties when deliberate neglect can be demonstrated? Possibly. But before such laws be enacted, I’d like to see a more just tax system in place, so that children can financially support their parents or provide for their care, etc. Welfare should be a last means of resort for those who have no other means of support. The government should not be taking away from income what should be used to meet one’s social obligations (including those beyond the family).

  • We live five blocks from my parents and less than an hour from my wife’s parents precisely because we have a responsibility to help them as they get older. Right now, this is not troublesome. We move boxes, fix things up around the house, take them shopping when they don’t feel up to driving, etc. Someday though, it is likely that the care required will be greater than we can manage while raising our children (3, 6, and 9).

    My brother is the director of a geriatric center and his stories are troubling. Of course, the most upsetting are those elderly persons who lie abandoned but the more common problem is that a lifetime of assets are wiped out very soon after admission to a full-care facility. If one has very few assets, $50,000 for example – the assets will be gone before a year is up and insurance will pick up from there. If one has a middling level of assets, perhaps $250,000 for example, your assets will also be gone before two or three years are up. Even the middling wealthy will last only five years or so before insurance is picking up the bulk of the cost.

    All this is to say that longevity due to medicine appears to have rendered the idea of saving for the end of one’s life a quaint notion. The end of life is now a democratized existence of managed care, insurance, and subsidy. Perhaps this is a fitting precursor to what follows.

    I am “investing for retirement” only in the sense that I want to live as well as I can before my body gives out. I expect to expend my assets BEFORE I require significant care. That will make me largely a ward of the State for a few years at the end but there is nothing I can do to forestall that so it is better to use the resources during a point that they can do me and my kin some good.

    This raises an ugly discussion about whether longevity without health is really a societal, familial, or individual good. Perhaps that is a topic for another time but it is a discussion I would like to see occur.

  • A filial responsibility law requiring all the siblings in such a scenario to contribute toward the cost of a parent’s care may help ease the burden on the primary caregiving sibling.

    If the assets of the other children can be attached by local courts. In the three cases of which I am personally acquainted, half of the children of the infirm parent live out of state.

  • “I expect to expend my assets BEFORE I require significant care… during a point that they can do me and my kin some good.”

    If you do, however, you should do so at least 5 years before you end up broke and in a nursing home (provided, of course, you have a crystal ball and can predict exactly when you will need to apply for Medicaid).

    Due to the change in federal law, nursing home residents who apply for Medicaid may be subject to penalty periods of ineligibilty equal to the amount of time they COULD have paid for their own care with any assets they gave away or disposed of at less than fair market value within the previous 5 years.

    If a penalty period is imposed, and a hardship waiver cannot be obtained, the resident then will have to get their children to cough up the money, move out of the home until the penalty period expires, or leave the nursing home holding the bag for those costs. This is the point at which some people think filial responsibility laws should be invoked.

    The purpose of the law, of course, is to discourage wealthy people from intentionally giving away significant assets to their children for the express purpose of “impoverishing” themselves so as to qualify for Medicaid.

    Unfortunately, depending on how the law is interpreted by Medicaid caseworkers, elder law attorneys, etc. it could also potentially come back to bite people who simply wanted to be generous to their children, grandchildren, friends, churches, charities, etc. if they cannot prove those transactions were made for a reason other than to attain Medicaid eligibility.

    This is a very difficult issue in that we have to balance the legitimate desire of people who have worked hard all their lives and want to leave something behind for their children and grandchildren, or give back to their community or church, with the legitimate interest of the state in insuring that Medicaid is reserved for the truly needy who have NO other means of obtaining care.

    How we can accomplish this, other than through encouraging people to purchase long term care insurance when they are still young and healthy enough that it won’t cost them an arm and a leg, I really don’t know.

  • This is where the locus of control is important. The parent may alienate assets without the knowledge or consent of her children (or at least a working majority of the children).

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  • One aspect that has not been discussed here: The choices that a couple make in readying for their later years affect and are affected by the economic structure of society. 100 years ago, most people aimed for having at least 4 or 5 kids, often more. As a result, when social security kicked in 1935, they could peg 5 paying workers for every retiree as an acceptable model. This ignored the fact that once people got to assuming that government would provide a healthy chunk of their retirement income (most people at the time, and for 50 years thereafter, assumed it would be the entirety of their retirement income) they ceased to have the same motivations toward having 4, 5, or more children. Family sizes dropped, which killed the possibility of retaining the 5 workers per retiree model. So a national choice to shift the responsibility onto “them” (the gov) induced changes that make meeting such responsibilities impossible.

    Similar problems occur with elderly home and health care. In point of fact, nobody can expect to live their last 2 years of life alone, without assistance. But with the reduction in the number of children, and the increase in house size and cost, the economic model of wife working (after 6 to 8 years out of the workforce, perhaps) means almost no wives are at home, available to care for grandma and grandpa.

    My family planned a bit better: we built a house with an in-law suite for my parents, 10 years before they hit their end-of-life issues, and my wife did not work outside the home. We had family available to care for the parents, including 2 of my sisters who were free to move in with us for several weeks at a shot, over the last 8 months of life, which Mom spent at home instead of miserable in an institution. But to be honest, all that still would not have been sufficient, if God had not also provided what we needed: there were many, many alternative scenarios where the resources that we had available would NOT have been adequate.

    While we need an economic model that encourages families to assume that they will care for their own parents, we ALSO need things like long-term care insurance to be a normal part of family expense.

  • Another consideration is that with the decline of manufacturing industries, the deterioration of certain urban areas and neighborhoods, etc., many times children must move hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their parents to find work. In the days when just about any able-bodied person who could read and write (and even some who couldn’t) could find work in a factory or mine or on a farm in their community, it was easier to stay close to family. However, that’s not always the case today.

    If Mom and Dad live in some fading Kansas farm town and Junior has gotten a high-tech job in Seattle, or if Mom still lives in the West Virginia coal mining town where the mine Dad worked at closed years ago, and her kids live in Texas or Georgia or wherever, what are the kids supposed to do when she gets sick? Quit their jobs, uproot their spouses and their own kids and move them someplace where there is no work to speak of? While Mom or Dad could always uproot themselves and move in with one of the kids, if they absolutely refuse to do so, the kids can’t do much about it.

  • 1. Some years ago I had to do an analysis of census data collected in 1990. One datum I discovered: at any given time, 65% of the population live in the state in which they were born.

    2. Back in 1979, a man of my acquaintance turned in an honors thesis to the History Department at the University of Rochester which incorporated an an attempt at assessment of migration rates in the Genesee Valley between 1825 and 1835 (when a great deal of agricultural colonization of the valley was ongoing by migrants from New England). He studied two townships now in Monroe County. His conclusion: in a single decade, 70% of the population of these townships had decamped elsewhere. That is a level of demographic churn that I am not sure you would find even today.

    3. I would not wish to deny that social security programs and private pensions have their effect on fertility levels. The shift from agricultural to non-agricultural employment also has its effects. The decline in total fertility rates antedated the advent of social transfers in this country and the advent of social transfers did not prevent periods of increasing fertility during the years running from 1946 to 1957 and again after 1978.

    4. My great-grandparents spent their last years not in the town in Tennessee where they had lived nearly all of their lives, but shuttling between their older son in the suburbs of Washington and their younger son resident in a small town in northeast Pennsylvania.

    5. I have been investigating long-term care insurance. Cannot verify this at this time, but the consumer guides the agents pass out estimate that some 40% of the population will see the inside of a nursing home before they die (bracket out those receiving rehabilitation care in such settings). Some other portion will spend time in assisted living, but that is private pay and thus has a niche clientele. The point being, a large fraction of the elderly do not require long term care.

    6. Sorry to be repetitive on this point, but the notion that wage work was unusual for the female population prior to 1970 is one that needs to be retired. I cannot help but notice that the census taken 10 years ago found 18 million women between the ages of 20 and 62 and not in the labor force. There were about 64 million women in the workforce. I think housewives still exist in large numbers.

  • “At any given time, 65 percent of the population live in the state in which they were born.”

    That is true in my case. However, unless you live in a geographically tiny state like Rhode Island, that doesn’t necessarily mean you live within reasonable commuting/ driving distance of the community in which you were born or where your parents/grandparents/other relatives live.

  • True, but your parents’ feet are not nailed to the floor either. You commuting may not be a realizable option, but them electing to spend some of their retirement years in Springfield rather than Rockford may be.

Parish Shopping

Monday, June 21, AD 2010

As my wife and I are expecting in November, we’ve started to consider where we’re going to baptize the baby. Most churches that we’ve seen want you to be a parishioner before they baptize you. This has brought up the question of what parish we really belong to. We’ve found that that’s not an easy question.

Over the weekend, Tito had a post that inquired about the existence of good parishes in Las Vegas for his family. Some of the things he looks for are an orthodox priest faithful to the Magisterium, a beautiful Church, and a liturgy that aspires to beauty and lacks some of the folksy elements of post-Vatican II as well as the more scandalous aspects of the “spirit of Vatican II” like liturgical dancers.

None of those desires are unreasonable. In fact, those things are the rights of the faithful.

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24 Responses to Parish Shopping

  • I wonder if obedience is the least popular of all virtues. Sure, some other virtues get beaten up in our society, but obedience is equally resented by the nonreligious, the casually religious, and the devout.

    For quite a few years, a sleep disorder prevented me from attending early Mass. I got in the habit of attending 5 p.m. Mass at the next parish up the road. Now that I could make it to my local parish at noon, I still go up the road, because my local parish is really ugly and everyone talks through Mass.

    Before the sleep problems, I attended the Latin Mass at another parish, and it’s there that I’m registered.

    Anyway, I guess my excuse is that I’m not shopping around, and I’ve settled at a parish that’s not 100% to my liking. But it’s still not the one I actually reside in.

  • I think you have to find a good, solid church, recognize its faults, and get involved in valid ways to make it strong in those areas. We chose our parish 10 miles from home (when there are parishes 1 mile and 3 miles away) because we liked the setting, the physical church, and we interviewed, and liked the priest. But the parish is weak in spirituality, so when there was an opening for musical director, we helped find qualified people to interview. We have worked to bring in good evangelist-type preachers (we’re having Fr. Wade Menezes of the Fathers of Mercy in a few months). My point is, select a place you can live with, then do what the Holy Spirit asks you to do to make the parish better.

  • Very good article Michael.

    I feel if I were to stay active in my geographical correct parish, I would have been driven out due to my orthodoxy.

    Fortunately, I do not have that problem (Deo gratis).

    I’m all for being change agents. The question is to ask God for the courage to stay in an unCatholic parish.

  • I believe that there are many ways of living our faith as Catholics. While I am fairly conservative, I also know that is not the only path. There is always going to be some cognitive dissonence. The question is how much you can stand.

    My parish has had three different pastors in the last nine years, each with a different personal style and a different management style, as well as three deacons and I can’t even count how many assistant pastors/priest in residence. But the parishioners are the church. I feel comfortable and welcome with them, in contrast to my previous parish, where, after 25 years, I still hardly knew anyone’s name. Involvement really wasn’t welcome at my previous parish. It was the same group of people who “did things.” Quite the contrary where I am now. Ours is a very large parish. We need 18 people, per Mass, to distribute Communion. That involvement is good for the parishioners and it is also good for the community of the parish. I really think that you need to go where you feel part of the community, even if you have to drive past some other parishes to get there.

  • Tito Edwards says: I feel if I were to stay active in my geographical correct parish, I would have been driven out due to my orthodoxy.

    That happened to me. I’ll give the Reader’s Digest version. I was out of the Church for 25 years (the Prodigal Son). When I returned I was SHOCKED at all the “changes” that had taken place and I totally felt like a fish out of water.

    I was having marital problems and approached my pastor for counseling. I told him that I would like to go to confession and he replied “what makes you think you have to go to confession?”

    My wife went through the RCIA program and since I was her sponsor I was subjected to a whole years of “The best of Fr. McBrien” by the “Church Lady” that ran the program. It was a watered down mess. I sponsored another individual the following year and got into battles with the Church Lady over the lack of content in “her” program.

    I approached the parish council once to try to start a Family Rosary program using the materials from the Apostolate of Family Consecration. I mentioned at the meeting that it had the blessing of Pope John Paul II and the Associate Pastor rolled his eyes and sighed out loud.

    I was ostracized by the priests, and criticized by them to my wife for teaching then such heretical things as communion on the tongue. My wife & I eventually ended up divorcing and she left the Church and moved in with her BF. I went “parish shopping” where I found a marvelous orthodox parish that had five priests, DAILY confession, Divine Mercy & 40 hrs devotions etc.

    IMHO it’s WELL beyond “judging” – in some locations it’s become a matter of survival.

  • I think at times it is prudent to go to another parish. The parish I belonged to geographically in one city was quite unusual in its practices. Went to Mass there only once. The priest and nun processed down the aisle together with the nun wearing a dress with the exact same color of the priest’s vestments. They alternated saying the Introductory prayers of the Mass and sat in a pew together leaving the altar area empty. There were several same-sex “couples” in the congregation all beaming proudly at the homily that spoke of the equality of all “life choices.”

    Left at that point as I thought the Mass ultimately could be invalid. Never returned.

  • If there is a Latin Mass parish in your area perhaps you and your wife should consider there?

    If you raise your child in a novus ordo parish you will constantly have to explain to the child how inapprppriare the plethora of liturgical abuses are, and how the liturgy is theologically deficient, that Holy Mass is not the time where we celebrate ourselves but is the representation of Christ on the Cross in an unbloodied way. The mass is a sacrificial offering, not a fiesta.

    Since his/her very soul hangs in the balance, consider, should s/he go to a parish offering the Mass of the Great Saints of the last 400 years, or the mass where bishops of very questionable orientation give Holy Communion to the Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence dressed in drag, the mass loved by those seeking to destroy Christ’s Church?

    When one considers the tremendous cost of choosing wrong, I think the only right choice readily becomes clear. Extraordinary Form from Baptism onward. The child will truly be blessed to be spared all the tremendous abuses, false teaching, sacrileges, and all the confusion that comes from such things.

    If you wish for the child to grow into a practicing catholic as an adult, the novus ordo must be fled from before it can corrupt the child and destroy his/her faith as it has done to millions over the last 40 years.

  • It’s not about ‘novus ordo’ versus TLM, but the concept of obedience to the Church Christ founded vs. disobedience. ‘Novus ordo’ done correctly is obedient to the Magisterium. That said, there are lots of incorrect novus ordo masses. Any mass using a Gather Hymnal could make the mass incorrect. But If you can teach your children to obey, to respect, and to be humble, they will be horrified in what they see, and be good humans and good Catholics. I would start with a daily reading of the Beatitudes, and homilies by Fr. Corapi and Fr. Pablo Straub, and Fr. Wade Menezes, or any Fathers of Mercy.

  • So if one raises a child correctly one will be subjecting them every Sunday to an experience that horrifies them?

    That is surely the way to build a love for the Mass, by weekly subjecting them to the horrific novus ordo.

    Thank you for bolstering my point concerning TLM. It seems that even a surface analysis reveals that it is an issue of content and which missal is used, since the novus ordo is fundamentally different from TLM in it’s theology. One is about the sacrifice, the other is about fiesta time and the “church of aren’t we fabulous.”

    The novus ordo is a lot like socialism. Lefties keep declaring “we just haven’t done it the right way yet! It will work this time! Really!”. But when clear thinking prevails it becomes clear that the problem is the novus ordo itself, and no variation of Catholicism-watered-down-with-Protestantism-liturgy is going to work.

    Taking such radical risks with the soul of a child is unfathomable to me. For the child’s own sake, an EF parish is objectively the optimal choice. Since a parent always wants what is best for their child, and an EF parish would be best for the child, the conclusion is inescapable.

  • Jim:

    That’s horrible. I think your story really brings out something I mentioned: your own spiritual condition. If you’re just trying to come back into the Church and fix your marriage, I would find the best possible parish with the best priest. You would have been right to ditch that parish, I think.


    I think you have a clear case of leaving. That Mass probably wasn’t valid.


    Well, by the time my child is old enough to understand the Mass we’ll have moved (hopefully) out of Baton Rouge to either New Orleans or Lafayette.

    That said, I don’t think an EF parish is necessary. The novus ordo is a valid mass, and there are many parishes that provide the ordinary form in a way that it is still beautiful and faithful to the church (which is true in part b/c the church has said the novus ordo is acceptable, and being faithful entails acceptance of the validity of the novus ordo, even if the EF is personally preferred).

    That does get me thinking on another point: how much should one consider the local parish when buying a house? I tend to know Lafayette & New Orleans fairly well, and I think I would consider the orthodoxy of the local parish when making my decision. I don’t think that’s bad, though it may encourage parishes to become more like factions. I’ll have to think about that. Anyone else have thoughts on that angle?

  • Maybe I’ve just been fortunate, but I really don’t see what is so “horrific” about the Novus Ordo Mass as long as it is done reverently. I have been “subjected” to it from my earliest memory, as has my daughter, and we’re still completely faithful, practicing Catholics.

    Yes, I have been to TLM Masses and I’m all for keeping that tradition alive; yes, I like to hear Latin and real Gregorian chant (there is a parish in my area that does that), and yes, I think the new translation coming next year (hopefully) will go a long way toward restoring a sense of mystery and sacredness. However, I have seen many NO Masses done beautifully and reverently so it is not impossible.

    Of course this may be because I have had the good fortune to live in parishes that never went off some of the deeper ends of liturgical experimentation, and have never been subjected to any of the grosser liturgical abuses apparently common in some dioceses (e.g. liturgical dance, lay persons giving homilies, invalid Eucharistic matter, etc.) The worst liturgical “abuse” I have seen in the last 10 years or so is the use of some theologically questionable hymns (like “Ashes” and “City of God”), but other than that, I really can’t complain.

  • As far as your C.S. Lewis analogy.

    He was referring to the denominations of his day where people went to where they felt “comfortable”.

    Plus C.S. Lewis was a Protestant, not a Catholic.

    We aren’t “judging”, but asking for the faith Christ left us, not some invention from a 60s leftover.

  • As a matter of clarity to my previous posts; I fully agree and believe that the novus ordo (with proper form and matter as required, that is a valid priest, valid bread/wine, etc) is a valid mass.

    If my posted suggested otherwise, such an error is entirely my own and I regret any confusion.

    It is my assertation that the EF is not simply superior as a matter of personal preference, but
    is an objectively superior form of worship.

  • Also, as per the matter of church shopping, the law clearly does not require one to be enrolled at one’s geographic parish. Parishes are erected to ensure the faithful have access to what is their right, not to bind the faithful to access what is their right only in a particular place.

  • Tito:

    No, Lewis was not talking about different denominations, but different presentations of the liturgy within the Anglican Church (High and Low Church). Yes, he was Anglican but Anglicans have parishes too. While one clearly has to make an analogy between Lewis’s situation and what we as Catholics face today, I think the analogy is helpful.

    And as I said, the laity do have a right to the faith. I just want people to be careful before they bolt their parish.


    The canon law I quoted suggests that it is at least preferable for all the people to enroll in their local parish (unless there are differences of rite, nationality, etc.). Whether or not i is just merely preferable or actually binding in law is something a canon lawyer would have to interpret.

    I tend to agree with you about the superiority of the EF, though I have seen EFs done poorly such that the best NOs are superior to them. I have a feeling if Novus Ordo Masses were done right, people wouldn’t be having this discussion nearly as much.

  • Ezekiel says: Also, as per the matter of church shopping, the law clearly does not require one to be enrolled at one’s geographic parish.

    Actually, I don’t think you’ve read that right. As a Catholic, you are *automatically* a member of the parish you reside in. You no longer have to register though.

    See here:

    Note that:

    On a regular basis, when it comes to weekly Mass attendance and routine reception of the sacraments, we are not obliged to attend any one church in particular. Canon 1247 asserts that on Sundays and holydays, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass, but does not specify that we must attend Mass in any specific place. Similarly, we may receive the sacrament of confession from any priest who is lawfuly able to administer it (c. 991), without regard to the location where this takes place.

    Therefore, there is no legal reason why one cannot routinely attend Mass and receive the sacraments at a parish church other than the one to which we technically belong — although this is hardly an ideal situation. But on major occasions, such a child’s first reception of the sacraments, we have seen here that it is the norm that these be celebrated in one’s own parish church. And when it comes to marriage, as discussed above, the law is even more serious, for the validity of a marriage depends in part on whether it is celebrated in the parish of one of the spouses.

    I believe that many churches that have the EF are set up as personal parishes, and you may join those although your “mother” parish will still be the one you reside in.

  • Just remember that you are always the exception, and you will do well in life. 😉

    As a former parish shopper, I recognized that my need to be an exception was a poor reflection on me. In retrospect, I was quite silly in those days. For most folks, their involvement in a parish is one hour per week. If you are looking for more than that – and there is nothing wrong with desiring more – there are para-church organizations that are better equipped to help you.

  • I think there are certainly spiritual dangers to parish shopping — some of which we’re seeing on display. However, there are also times when it is important to move out of an environment where you family is not being spiritually nourished.

    Also, it seems to me it’s fairly important to be withing reasonable distance of your parish, since if you’re to be active there you’ll be going down there frequently.

    If you’re just entering an area or just coming back to the Church, I see no problem with looking around at the parishes within reasonable striking distance of your house before deciding which one to register in. However, once you’re settled on a parish it seems to me that the motivation for leaving would have to be something fairly major.

  • I agree with those who don’t believe the NO Mass, done correctly, is horrific. It’s simply not. I’d much rather have a priest enunciating the prayer in English reverently and properly than to have him stumbling over the Latin, butchering it so it’s undecipherable. Either mass, done properly, is beautiful. Remember, there is only one Mass. No, I don’t want tamborines, guitars, drums and piano, clapping during the Gloria, etc. But the lectionary for the NO mass is definitely superior, and gives a greater sense of the entire Bible. Well done Latin in the TLM is superior to the vernacular in the NO. But I’ve been to Hanceville and seen a NO mass using Latin, and it was truly amazing. I’ve been to TLMs that have also been amazing. I’ve been to both where I felt the content was lacking, even though Jesus was present (thereby providing a valid mass).

  • Hard to believe, when I was a pre Vatican 2 kid, all the Masses at all the churches around my very Catholic town were essentially interchangeable. Therefore people simply belonged to the closest church’s parish.

  • What an interesting perspective on “Parish Shopping.” I really liked the point that you made that if all of the orthodox parishoners leave, then the parish has little hope of changing, even if they do get a good orthodox priest. When I was still attending the parish I grew up in, I did try to respectfully approach our priest with certain problems I was having in our parish. One being that I felt that other parishoners were not respecting the presence of the Blessed Sacrament by talking and visiting after Mass instead of observing sacred silence. The priest basically blew me off. After several incidents with this priest, I left the parish and joined a more traditional parish downtown, St. Agnes. I hope that you find a good parish to belong to, and bring your baby into the Church!

  • I agree with the general tenor here. It’s a balancing act, making sure that you receive necessary spiritual support without becoming what Lewis called a “connoisseur of churches”. Smart thread.

  • Yep, sometimes times I think this “spirit of Vatican II” is really one spirit with dual personalties. I’ll call it the “spirit of the world I”…

    I say this because among many of the same spirits that had collected upon my once sick soul, (in which the true Spirit was cleansing me by fire), were to be found also hanging about the philosophies of the parish our entire family converted within.

    For over a year I didn’t realize that every wednesday evening I was (as a convert in waiting for baptism)involved with a Call To Action prayer group.. But, Our Lady gave me a strong heart for unity with the Chair of Peter during this time… On a terrestrial level, I’m sure she realized how much I had offended God previously in life, and would not bring before the Heart of the Most Holy Trinity any triump of Her Immaculate Heart that would not now or in the future remain obedient to Christ speaking through His Church.

    And that’s the whole crux of the problem, as I see it.
    These same dual spirits want desperately to confuse us all on the reality and required doctrines of Love, including the obedience Christ exemplifies in doing the will and works of the Father–still today through His Church.

    I’m on board with the notion of the orthodox remaining…

    I think that in a hidden way Our Lady uses us to destroy all manner of errors. I now look back on that time whimsically reflecting on my overly zealous self insisting to that same Call To Action group that they sit patiently through my readings of the Marian Movement of Priests book, followed by the Holy Rosary. Now I understand their discomfort a bit better. Facts are facts though:

    That group has now disbanded.

    God bless you all…


  • I agree that a well done N.O. can be very reverent. I have been fortunate in that I have not experienced too many cringe-inducing Masses, except for the occasional folksy or otherwise less than inspiring hymns (seem to get at least one each Mass).

    But, I do think a solid case can be made that the TLM, in its structure, is an objectively superior form of Catholic worship. Cardinal Ottaviani (sp?) pointed out the main differences, and over time, it seems the NO form has somewhat deteriorated – that is, it has allowed for more innovation (kind of hard to ad lib in Latin, after all, even though, ironically, “ad lib” is Latin. Go figure). Of course YMMV with individual priests, but the TLM form itself has more Catholic elements, and it is hard to argue against the claim that the NO is more Protestantized. The NO is still valid of course, and can be reverent, but the form itself seems to have purposefully changed certain elements that are not just trivial, and not necessarily for the better.

Cardinal Newman on Fasting

Wednesday, February 17, AD 2010

“And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungered.” Matt. iv. 2.

{1} THE season of humiliation, which precedes Easter, lasts for forty days, in memory of our Lord’s long fast in the wilderness. Accordingly on this day, the first Sunday in Lent, we read the Gospel which gives an account of it; and in the Collect we pray Him, who for our sakes fasted forty days and forty nights, to bless our abstinence to the good of our souls and bodies.

We fast by way of penitence, and in order to subdue the flesh. Our Saviour had no need of fasting for either purpose. His fasting was unlike ours, as in its intensity, so in its object. And yet when we begin to fast, His pattern is set before us; and we continue the time of fasting till, in number of days, we have equalled His.

There is a reason for this;—in truth, we must do nothing except with Him in our eye. As He it is, through whom alone we have the power to do any good {2} thing, so unless we do it for Him it is not good. From Him our obedience comes, towards Him it must look. He says, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” [John xv. 5.] No work is good without grace and without love.

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The Dominican Sisters On The Oprah Winfrey Show

Friday, February 12, AD 2010

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  They are a new order that arose from Pope John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization.  They are devout and orthodox in our Catholic faith which explains why the average age of a nun is 26 and they are already turning back inquiries since they are packed to capacity in their new convent.

They recently made an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show this past Tuesday, February 9.  I’ve only seen some of the show online and my assumptions were validated.  That being they were knowledgeable about our faith, energetically orthodox, and calm in their disposition.

I strongly advice you to watch all four videos that I have been able to track down of the entire show.  Some of the videos have a few seconds where the digital relay distorts the picture, but the sound is not disturbed.

Part I:  I love hearing the sisters talk about their faith unapologetically, ie, you hear “God called me”, “I am married to Jesus Christ”, etc, etc.  Simply beautiful!

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27 Responses to The Dominican Sisters On The Oprah Winfrey Show

  • I never watch Oprah but was visiting my brother’s family this past week and my sister-in-law had this particular show on. I was struck by Lisa Ling’s comments and was wondering if anyone knows if she is Catholic. It seems as these sisters, had a profouund impact on her.

  • Wait a minute! This is a scandal! They showed up on Oprah! We all know Oprah supported Obama! And according to this article, she supports abortion and homosexuality!


    So how can they go on her show and make her evil acceptable?

    (Note to reader: this is sarcasm).

  • God can even use the vacuous Oprah show for His own purposes.

  • Doesn’t stop the fact, Donald, that their presence on Oprah helped her make more money, and we know she is pro-abortion… so how come no one is condemning them but praising them for the very things they condemn the USCCB for?!

  • Maybe because Oprah has absolutely nothing to say about the laws written in this country, how the laws are enforced and which judges are picked to enforce the laws. Additionally the nuns weren’t going on the show to honor Oprah, or to express support for her, but to spread their message. Oprah does quite nicely financially without the nuns. The nuns got a nice bit of publicity by going on the show. Making use of a pro-abort entertainer’s show in order to spread the message of Christ strikes me as being in the “cunning as serpents” category.

  • “Maybe because Oprah has absolutely nothing to say about the laws written in this country, how the laws are enforced and which judges are picked to enforce the laws.”

    While others say she is the one who got President Obama elected. And she has major influence over Obama. And she has major influence over her media.

    “Additionally the nuns weren’t going on the show to honor Oprah, or to express support for her, but to spread their message.”

    Same with the USCCB working with non-Catholic groups.

    “Oprah does quite nicely financially without the nuns.”

    So that excuses helping her make more money so she can push more pro-homosexual, pro-abortion themes in her media?

    “Making use of a pro-abort entertainer’s show in order to spread the message of Christ strikes me as being in the ‘cunning as serpents’ category.”

    It’s funny how it is “making use of…” and not “guilt by association” when people like a group.

  • “While others say she is the one who got President Obama elected.”

    Some people also say that Obama is a great President Karlson. Fantasy statements are never to be taken seriously. A lousy economy, Bush fatigue and McCain being a lousy candidate are what got Obama elected in this frame of reality.

    “Same with the USCCB working with non-Catholic groups.”

    It is called shoveling money at pro-abort groups Karlson. Feel free to try again.

    “So that excuses helping her make more money so she can push more pro-homosexual, pro-abortion themes in her media?”

    They didn’t help her make money Karlson by appearing on her show. She would have made precisely the same amount of money whether they appeared or not.

    “It’s funny how it is “making use of…” and not “guilt by association” when people like a group.”

    No it’s called the nuns being smart enough to use Oprah for their purposes. The Bishops are dumb enough to allow their Left-wing staffers at the USCCB to allow Left-wing groups to use the Bishops and the money contributed by unsuspecting Catholics.

  • “It is called shoveling money at pro-abort groups Karlson. Feel free to try again.”

    But God can use pro-aborts, as you just said. And so that’s why it is ok for the nuns to help Oprah get shoveled more money! Sheesh. Consistency. Not with you. Sophistry, that’s all you have.

  • Henry,

    When you try this “I will show how foolish your way of thinking is” tactics, you always end up with the egg on your own face because you don’t bother to actually understand the position of the people you’re trying to ridicule. Either do the work of understanding your opponents or just drop the tactic — you really don’t do yourself any credit with these dogged little “I’ll show you the implications of your thinking” sessions.

  • “But God can use pro-aborts, as you just said. And so that’s why it is ok for the nuns to help Oprah get shoveled more money!”

    Once again Karlson Oprah would have received precisely the same amount of money whether the nuns were on her show or not. The nuns did not place any more coins in her pocket. This is a strawman of yours that is completely unconvincing.

  • So Donald

    Since Oprah would receive the same amount of money either way,it makes it all fine for them to be the ones to help her make it?

  • She would have made exactly the same money Karlson if she had you on or Fifi the dancing beagle. The nuns used Oprah not the other way around.

  • Actually, would she? The fact that this got many who do not normally watch Oprah to watch her means it makes her more money. But the fact is, even if you are correct, you didn’t answer my question. Why should it be fine for them to help her make money, and thereby, cooperate with the evil which will be done with that money they helped her generate?

  • This really is not hard Karlson. Oprah makes precisely the same amount of money no matter who she has on. She is not a struggling host of a show trying to establish an audience. She has a huge audience and advertisers who pay her richly for commercial space on her show. She makes the same money no matter who she has. You will have to come up with some other red herring argument to argue that nuns appearing on Oprah is the same as the USCCB through the CHD funneling funds to pro-abort groups.

  • I agree with the fact that Oprah made no more money than she would have with a dog and pony show.
    I am an RN and I worked for a year in a convent and got to know a large group of the Sisters. I am also Catholic, as a convert in my sixties, before I worked at the Convent! They are usually incredibly quietly happy and work diligently to help others in many ways, the primary way in prayer, By renouncing the world in favor of Jesus when they become Sisters they do not think about money in their own existence. My guess would be that they went on that show to preach the name of Jesus as Savior, and no other reason as the Sisters of the Convent that I love would do! Nearly all of the Sisters I know worked most of their lives in poor areas of the southwest and California teaching school for indigent families children. If you do not know what it means to be a Sister you might do well to not comment about their motives!

  • Marilyn

    I don’t think you get the point of my comments. I am not criticizing the sisters, but applying the kind of logic which is used by some around here to judge the USCCB and show how it would also apply to those who do similar things and yet they applaud.

  • Henry points out the problems in logic when folks are selective in their criticism of association with evil. Oprah ok, but Jenkins not. Nixon ok, but Obama not. The dictatorship of relativism is wearing its tan uniforms on this site.

    If it didn’t sting on some level, you wouldn’t have strung out this thread into the teens. The fact that you have to continually justify it is telling. See if Michael Voris or Ray Arroyo can take your back on this.

    The bloggers here are playing to the home crowd, but they’re not doing their pro-life viewpoints, their conservative bona fides, or Catholicism any favors.

    Personally, I don’t see any problem with the nuns appearing on Oprah. Good for all of them.

  • Karlson makes a nonsense argument and Todd supports it. Business as usual for the usual suspects.

  • Marilyn,

    Disregard the comments by Henry K. and Todd.

    They want to destroy what is good for political points.

  • It’s a tough gig to have to prop up poor arguments, but you guys seem to have a good time doing so. Too bad we can’t take this discussion to Oprah or EWTN. They’re missing all the fun.

  • Todd let us know when you have an actual argument to contribute rather than just a snide attitute.

  • I think we need to say that the Sisters were invited to be on this Show, and it is not their intention to support Oprah.

    I think the best thing to conclude is that the little bit they did in harm is by far outweighed in the good which I no doubt occurred and will occur because of this encounter. I’m not trying to say this as a consequentialist.

    I say this because Oprah is not evil incarnate, she may be missinformed upon a great many subjects, but maybe she and her viewers can be converted. That is always the hope, appearing on a show of hers does not always show support for the views that Oprah has.

    I don’t know if you can link Oprah’s views to the Show in general. Any television program will have views that they support that will be in conflict with the faith. As long as you do not support or even make it known that you don’t support those views when you appear upon the said show I think it violates.

    We must engage culture in any case, show our disapproval and start to change it from the inside out. We are counter cultural and Christ will do the work, but we must engage in the debate and what better place then at the pinnacle of where it is seen. Silence is not an issue!

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  • I enjoyed watching these videos then unfortunately went to read the comments. The devil has his shills everywhere.

    God bless these wonderful sisters. I hope they touched many in Oprah’s audience who have been spoon fed untold amounts of new age nonsense and whatever else appears on that show.

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The Debate is about Authority

Tuesday, December 1, AD 2009

Witnessing the continued implosion of the Anglicans and the ELCA over matters of Christian morality, I am intrigued by the way present circumstances have inspired renewed consideration of tradition, authority and obedience.

As I wrote a few months ago (“On the troubles within the ELCA” American Catholic September 7, 2009): “What is interesting, at least from this Catholic perspective, is the extent to which the critics of recent decisions recognize the seeds of their present troubles woven into the very fabric of their tradition.”

In a recent post to First Things‘ “On the Square”, Rusty Reno described the crisis of those experiencing “the agony of mainline Protestantism” thus:

One either recommits oneself to the troubled world of mainline Protestantism with articulate criticisms, but also with a spirit of sacrifice, as he so powerfully evokes. Or one stumbles forward-who can see in advance by what uncertain steps?-and abandons oneself, not to “orthodoxy” or “true doctrine” or “good theology,” but to the tender care of Mother Church.

As Joe Carter (First Things) noted, as with the Anglicans, so a faction of Lutherans have chosen a third route — forming a new Lutheran church body separate from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Meanwhile, it appears that the homosexuality debate is fanning faculty and student protests at Calvin College — the furor instigated by a memo reminding faculty that they were bound to the confessional documents of the Christian Reformed Church:

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2 Responses to The Debate is about Authority

  • It has always been about authority. Seems the Protestant seeds planted 500 years ago are starting to mature and will eventually choke itself off. Not that there won’t be Protestant denominations with us unitl the end of time. They may even become the most numerous. But eventually they will not resemble anything like Christianity. Heck, some are already unrecognizable as Christian.

  • Unitarians come to mind. Latter Day Saints. Just two off the top of my head that barely resemble Christianity at all.

Bishop Olmsted Accuses President Jenkins of Disobedience

Thursday, March 26, AD 2009

Here is the text of Bishop Olmsted’s letter to President Jenkins (h/t American Papist):


While I am disappointed by President Jenkin’s decision to invite President Obama to speak at commencement, particularly the decision to confer an honorary law degree, I have several questions about this letter:

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43 Responses to Bishop Olmsted Accuses President Jenkins of Disobedience

  • A voice of reasoned consideration in these woods.

    Deo Gratias.

  • I would assume that one of the benefits of being a bishop is that you can usually assume that people are interested in knowing your opinion — and most of us are interested in making our opinions known.

  • I think if it wasn’t a public act of disobedience on the part of Jenkins it certainly was a public act of stupidity. Of course people will see Obama getting a commencement speech and an honorary degree as the Notre Dame administration supporting a pro-abort pol. I am glad that Olmsted took Jenkins to the ecclesiastical woodshed, and I only regret that his language was so restrained. Jenkins isn’t a stupid man. He knows precisely what he is doing and I find it reprehensible.

  • To read the document in any other way than the reading given by Bishops D’Arcy and Olmsted is to render the document completely meaningless. I mean, was there REALLY a problem with Catholic colleges giving “awards, honors or platforms” to pro-abort politicians as a way of honoring them SPECIFICALLY FOR those pro-abort activities? Of course not! Such a reading is ludicrous Jesuitical hair-splitting.

    The only way the Bishops’ document makes any sense at all is for it to be given the quite straightforward reading the Bishops themselves seem to be giving it.

  • Hopefully Bishop D’Arcy will see the letter as an act of support from a brother bishop. As someone in the AmP comment section pointed out, there are most likely Catholics from Phoenix attending Notre Dame, so Olmsted is, if nothing else, acting in their interests as a concerned pastor.

    And although Fr. Jenkins is trying to wriggle his way around the statement on “awards, honors, or platforms,” I find his argument rather worn and tenuous. If Notre Dame were only inviting President Obama as a speaker, he might have a leg to stand on. However he is also being awarded an honorary degree that is meant to recognize his leadership. Arguably, thus far Obama’s most major acts as our new leader have been anti-life ones. I’m sure you’re familiar with what he’s done so far, so I won’t labor to make a list.

  • I always love Jay Anderson’s responses!

    1. Bishop D’Arcy’s response was weak. He’s pals with Jenkins. Who cares about his toes.

    2. Prudent to go public? Are you serious? ND’s Pres. Obortion invite was a very public F-U to the bishops.

    3. Yes, a “hair-splitting”, Jesuit type argument (I agree with Jay).


  • And I should add: I don’t really think it does to question whether a bishop is correctly parsing a USCCB document that he cites, unless his citation is just flagrantly out of line. Olmsted is, after all, a member of the USCCB. That doesn’t make his interpretation definitive, but it’s not as if he’s some lay person spouting off as to what a USCCB document means.

    If it was a bit outspoken of Bishop Olmsted, I think his crosier and miter give him the license to be so if he chooses.

  • ND’s Pres. Obortion invite was a very public F-U to the bishops.

    I think you’re exaggerating a bit.

  • Exaggerating on the “Obortion” part or the “very public F-U” part?

  • DC wrote:
    I would assume that one of the benefits of being a bishop is that you can usually assume that people are interested in knowing your opinion — and most of us are interested in making our opinions known.

    If a bishop is going to accuse a member of a religious order of public disobedience, a serious charge, it seems to me that this is more than simply offering an opinion. It seems odd to me that Bishop Olmsted felt compelled to address Fr. Jenkins so publicly, when Bishop D’Arcy had already addressed the situation quite well. If he had simply supported Bishop D’Arcy, all well and good. But instead he made a serious accusation, which is likely to damage Notre Dame’s relationship with the Church hierarchy.

    Jay wrote:
    To read the document in any other way than the reading given by Bishops D’Arcy and Olmsted is to render the document completely meaningless. I mean, was there REALLY a problem with Catholic colleges giving “awards, honors or platforms” to pro-abort politicians as a way of honoring them SPECIFICALLY FOR those pro-abort activities? Of course not! Such a reading is ludicrous Jesuitical hair-splitting.

    The charge of Jesuitical reasoning hurts on two levels Jay: 1) Our shared graduate educational background; 2) I’ve been educated (insert scare quotes as necessary) by Franciscans and Salesians, but never by the dreaded Jesuits.

    In response to your comment, I think there has been a serious problem with Catholic colleges inviting and honoring pro-abortion speakers, and that many colleges have not made it clear that they oppose the speakers views on abortion. So yes, I think the statement could plausibly be read in this manner. In this case, Fr. Jenkins has made it clear that the invitation is not an endorsement of Obama’s views on abortion and ESCR (although, of course, I wish he had not made the invitation at all).

    Regarding the Jesuitical point, the question here is whether it’s clear that Fr. Jenkins was disobedient. I don’t think it is. I think the USCCB statement is worded ambiguously, and that the ambiguity is not an accident. My recollection is that you are not shy of criticizing the USCCB, and it would hardly surprise me if the document was deliberately written this way . To cite another recent example of this phenomenon, one could drive a truck through the wiggle room in the recent Faithful Citizenship document.

    Bishop D’Arcy, as the local ordinary, has a responsibility to interpret the document, and I think his interpretation is probably the stronger one. But there is a difference between providing an interpretation as Bishop D’Arcy has done, and declaring that a priest in a religious order is publicly disobedient because he had a different interpretation than the Bishop of Phoenix when he invited the President of the United States to speak at Commencement.

    Finally, I think there is a prudential question here. Notre Dame is in a fairly precarious place as an ‘elite’ institution that is also trying to maintain its Catholic identity. In many ways these goals conflict. To the extent Fr. Jenkins and the University are not only constructively criticized (see Bishop D’Arcy’s statement), but condemned as publicly disobedient (Bishop Olmsted), this type of statement is likely to damage the University’s relationship with the hierarchy. It’s a delicate balance, and I think Bishop D’Arcy struck the perfect note; I think Bishop Olmsted, however, was somewhat unfair (because of the deficiencies in the USCCB document), as well as imprudent. And I’m not sure why the Bishop of Phoenix has special jurisdiction vis-a-vis priestly religious in Bishop D’Arcy’s diocese.

  • Btw, thanks to all commenters for the responses. I don’t have time to respond to every criticism right now, but I appreciated reading people’s thoughts.

  • “My recollection is that you are not shy of criticizing the USCCB …”

    Actually, I have tried to avoid criticizing the USCCB and I give particular leeway to the Bishops when interpreting their own documents. I give much less leeway to the dubious interpretations and justifications of University presidents with a history of coming down on the side of “engaging the culture” over faithfulness to Catholic identity.

  • Should a divorcee who has remarried (without any annulments), especially someone who is known by the public, be allowed to speak and get an award at a Catholic institution, since they are, after all, going against the morals of the Catholic Church?

    Again, the vagueness is on many levels.

  • Comparing divorce and abortion is comparing apples and rock salt. Nobody dies as a matter of course in a divorce. Pope Benedict when he was Cardinal Ratzinger recognized the special level of evil involved in abortion and euthanasia:

    “3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”


    One would think this would be clear enough even for academics that someone who promotes abortion should not be honored at catholic unversities and colleges.

  • I agree with John Henry that the statement is somewhat ambiguous. At least, I think the situation might affect whether or not having a speaker with views contrary to Catholic fundamental moral principles consititutes support for those views. If, for example, Obama had been invited to speak prior to the election, where his speaking could help him win the election and thus put his views into action, then the argument that ND is endorsing his views would be stronger.

    There’s also the ambiguity of the word “defiance,” which can mean simply contrariness, but usually suggests resistance. A pro-choice Catholic politician who has been admonished by his bishop would seem to be more defiant than a non-Catholic politician who holds the same views.

  • Even conceding the ambiguity, President Jenkins has done next to nothing to separate the award and platform from President Obama’s defiance of our fundamental moral principles. Thus far, it’s been a rhetorical tongue bath and excuse-making to the larger Catholic world. Not to put to fine a point on it, but Jenkins’ behavior has not been above board and, frankly, has been rather shabby.

  • Kyle: there’s no credible argument that Obama is unaware of Catholic moral principles on abortion and ESCR. Even the obsequious fawner Doug Kmiec says he discussed the matters with him.

    The President is Rhett Butler. He frankly doesn’t give a damn, and when it comes to brass tacks has (an admittedly elegant) contempt for them.

  • On the other AC thread, Elaine pointed out if anyone has contacted the CSC superior? Meaning since Notre Dame was founded by the Congregration of the Holy Cross. Why doesn’t somebody contact them to see if they can pull some strings?

    I’m sure someone has, just covering all our bases here.

  • That’s an interesting question Tito. I haven’t heard anything about that, although I’d be surprised if anything changed at this point.

  • Dale,

    I didn’t mean to imply that Obama isn’t aware of Catholic teaching on the life issues. My point is that he’s not Catholic, and so his holding opposing views on the life issues isn’t defiant in the way that a Catholic’s holding his views would be. Of course, one need not be Catholic in order to oppose abortion and ESCR.

  • Rush Limbaugh has been discussing Notre Dame and Obama on his show now. He is stunned that a Catholic University of Notre Dame’s stature is providing a forum to the “most anti-life President in our nation’s history”.

  • Since when is Rush Limbaugh competent in matters Catholic.

    And I am not surprised by the emotionalist rhetoric of “the most anti-life President in our nation’s history”. His is a lucrative industry of demagoguery.

  • Mark,

    While I would be more surprised if Limbaugh did not profess to be stunned because being stunned has entertainment value, I think there is a strong case for that description of President Obama, given his record on life issues (we need not recite all the details here).

  • Thank you Mr. DeFrancisis, I was waiting for someone to attack the messenger. Rush Limbaugh, thrice divorced, a former oxycotin addict, add on anything detrimental against him you wish, is here standing for Catholic truth, while Jenkins and his administration are falling all over themselves to pay homage to a man who has fought for abortion up to the time the cord is cut, and against medical assistance to those infants who survive the abortion. This is a deeply shameful moment for the Catholic Church in this country when a non-Catholic like Limbaugh stands up for Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life while Jenkins and his acolytes are doing their very best to ignore that teaching. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to respond to your comment.

  • Donald,

    I honestly was not referencing his personal life. I do not know of all the sordid details, other than his past, temporary (but understandable) prolem with addictions to pain medication.

    His show and its modus operandi, however, virtually precludes a constructive discussion which actually fosters the culture of life and an evenhanded assessment of all parties/positions involved.

    To me, he is a high stakes entertainer.

    I avoid him like I avoid Olbermann these days.

    Aditionally, you and I have differing interpretations on what the commencement address and honorary degree expresses. Let us as gentlemen respect each other’s differing interpretation of both that matter in itself and the USCCB document that is intimately related.

    Let me just end by communicating to you my utmost respect for your life long and lifewide commitment to the unborn, our society’s most vulnerable.

  • Mark, I ask this in all sincerity, as you are on the other side of this issue from me:

    How has the administration of ND taken care to ensure that the award and platform offered to the President do not suggest support for his actions which are contrary to fundamental moral principles?

  • JH,

    Who is The most “antilife president in our nation’ is a very tough thing to gauge.

    For one, Eisenhower ordered and was ultimately responsible for the unjust nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which directly resulted in deaths in the millions and millions.

    While Obama’s stance on the legality of abortion and his recent ESCR moves are heinous, I do not know if he will rack up such numbers of deaths in which is hand is so front and central in the matter.

  • Not to be a nitnoid, but the atomic bombing wasn’t ordered by Eisenhower, but rather by Harry Truman.

  • “Is Bishop Olmsted stepping on Bishop D’Arcy’s toes by commenting on events in the latter’s diocese after Bishop D’Arcy has already addressed the matter (quite well, I might add)?”

    The good bishop is merely supporting his fellow Bishop on the matter and, thus, consolidating their position should there be any doubt concerning the wrongfulness of such an action.

    It’s not unlike how several bishops from various dioceses during the elections kept advising Catholics on how pro-life issues should be a major point of consideration when selecting a candidate.

    “Since when is Rush Limbaugh competent in matters Catholic.”

    Was this even a serious matter for consideration?

    I mean, Rush was the very same who mocked Mother Teresa, accusing her of playing to the camera and both blatantly and maliciously characterizing media coverage of her as really her ulterior agenda of taking advantage of several photo opportunities just to cheaply advertise on behalf of the Catholic church then.

    The guy’s a prick.

  • For one, Eisenhower ordered and was ultimately responsible for the unjust nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which directly resulted in deaths in the millions and millions.

    Also, in addition to the fact it was Pres. Truman, not Pres Eisenhower, the number killed was in fact slightly under 250k — not millions.

  • Nobody dies as a matter of course in a divorce.


    I don’t know about that. I’ve heard of family law attorneys who have gotten the other spouse so angry that they have undertaken murderous actions against their former spouse and children.

    Most successful family law attorneys I know love to fan the flames of contention and in an already emotionally charged situation it results in the parties not reaching a quick resolution and lines their pockets with additional fees. So what if it occasionally ends in disasterous results. . . blame it on the party who wasn’t your client?

    By the way, Pope John Paul did state that attorneys “should avoid being personnally involved in anything that might imply cooperation with a divorce.”


  • By the way Reagan as Governor of California signed into effect one of the most liberal divorce and abortion laws in the nation at that time. Of course he later said he regretted it, but then what else is he going to say when he is running for the Republican nomination for President in the 70’s and 80’s.

  • On the other AC thread, Elaine pointed out if anyone has contacted the CSC superior? Meaning since Notre Dame was founded by the Congregration of the Holy Cross. Why doesn’t somebody contact them to see if they can pull some strings?

    I’m sure someone has, just covering all our bases here.

    You are assuming that the decision is that of Father Jenkins alone. He is appointed not by his CSC superior as president of the university but by Notre Dame’s lay board of directors (thank you Father Ted and the Land of Lake’s Conferenc). Of course dear Father Ted when he handed the University over to laymen (to give it greater academic credibility) did put in the requirement that the President always had to be a CSC priest. No one denies that Father Ted does have his priorities and looking out for No. 1 always comes first.

  • a-man,

    Just got word that the CSC provincial completely supports Fr. Jenkin’s decision:


  • Most successful family law attorneys I know love to fan the flames of contention and in an already emotionally charged situation it results in the parties not reaching a quick resolution and lines their pockets with additional fees.

    That’s some company you keep. However, I find it hard to believe. Divorce is evil. It does great violence to the souls of everyone involved. From my experience though, lawyers recognize that more than most (even secular minded lawyers). Contrary to your characterization, lawyers generally want to get it over with as quickly and painlessly as possible. It’s usually the clients that keep the flames fueled while the lawyers are trying to bring some reason to the process even as they advocate for their client. Hmm, now I’m considering the adjective you used, “successful”. Maybe you can stand firm on your comment as I will stand on mine. We may just have a different idea of what it means to be successful.

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  • “Don:

    I don’t know about that. I’ve heard of family law attorneys who have gotten the other spouse so angry that they have undertaken murderous actions against their former spouse and children.

    Most successful family law attorneys I know love to fan the flames of contention and in an already emotionally charged situation it results in the parties not reaching a quick resolution and lines their pockets with additional fees. So what if it occasionally ends in disasterous results. . . blame it on the party who wasn’t your client?”

    Some lawyers can be jerks, no doubt about that. Most lawyers in divorce cases, including those who specialize in them in my experience, do their best to get the parties to compromise or at least try to be civil. Lawyers tend to be fairly busy, and the last thing they want to do is field anguished phone calls from a client in a contentious divorce or be constantly running back to court on minor matters that should be easily resolved by negotiation. For every divorce I have seen where the personality of the attorney is a problem in the case, I have seen 10 where one or both of the parties simply want to go to war. Most divorces are not like that however. Usually after some preliminary skirmishing in court an agreement is worked out fairly quickly. The hotly contested divorce from start to finish does happen of course but it is far from the norm.

    “By the way, Pope John Paul did state that attorneys “should avoid being personnally involved in anything that might imply cooperation with a divorce.””

    He then later said that attorneys might be involved if they were attempting to resolve the case to the benefit of the children involved in a custody proceeding.

    He also said that attorneys should look for effective measures that favour marriage, above all mediation and conciliation. The first question I ask anyone seeking my counsel in a divorce case is if mediation could save the marriage. They almost always say no. If clients ask my opinion I always say counseling should be attempted prior to a divorce action if there is any hope at all of avoiding a marriage. I also tell them that I do not believe in divorce and they might do better with a counsel with views different from mine.

    Like most attorneys I find divorce actions depressing and I have deliberately kept them a very small portion of my practice. Often times I enter a case post-dissolution where there is an issue of enforcement of child support, visitation or an attempt to modify child custody.

    However even more depressing are paternity cases where the family tie is never formed to begin with. When I hung out my shingle in 82 paternity cases were rare, at least in central Illinois, now they are commonplace. Of course with a 40% illegitimacy rate one would expect that. Quite a few handbaskets on their way to Hell these days.

  • In regard to Reagan and the California abortion law, he always regarded it as his biggest mistake:

    “In May 1967, the Therapeutic Abortion Bill began to take shape. It was a measure to allow pregnant women to terminate embryos prejudicial to their “physical or mental health.” Reagan had to admit that he agreed with “the moral principle of self-defense.” If 100,000 California women were desperate enough to undergo illegal abortions every year, he could at least make it safer for some of them.
    He signed it into law. Only as abortion became an extension of welfare, would he wish he had paid more head to the bill’s manipulative language. The very word “Therapeutic” was a medical euphemism, sanitizing essentially bloody procedures. It defined “mental health” as at-risk if a pregnant teen went out and smashed windows. In common with the more liberal laws it was to spawn at state and federal levels, the Act ignored the feelings of fathers.

    Reagan was left with a sense of guilt. “If there is a question as to whether there is life or death, the doubt should be resolved in favor of life.”

    Source: Dutch, by Edmund Morris, p.351-352 May 1, 1967”

    Here is an article which Reagan wrote for the Human Life Review in 1983:


    “Abraham Lincoln recognized that we could not survive as a free land when some men could decide that others were not fit to be free and should therefore be slaves. Likewise, we cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide. My Administration is dedicated to the preservation of America as a free land, and there is no cause more important for preserving that freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning.”

  • “I mean, Rush was the very same who mocked Mother Teresa, accusing her of playing to the camera and both blatantly and maliciously characterizing media coverage of her as really her ulterior agenda of taking advantage of several photo opportunities just to cheaply advertise on behalf of the Catholic church then.”

    Unless you have some quotes e. I believe you are probably confusing Rush with Christopher Hitchens. I can recall Rush speaking very highly of her on his radio show on several occasions.

  • “For one, Eisenhower ordered and was ultimately responsible for the unjust nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which directly resulted in deaths in the millions and millions.”

    As Dale and Darwin note, Mr. DeFrancisis, the President was Truman, not Eisenhower. Eisenhower was Supreme Commander of the Anglo-American forces in Europe. He had no role in the war in the Pacific. In his memoirs he contended that at the time he thought the bombs were unnecessary, but he also stated that all of his attention was focused on Europe and that he was unfamiliar with the war being waged against Japan other than as an observer from the sidelines.

    “Let me just end by communicating to you my utmost respect for your life long and lifewide commitment to the unborn, our society’s most vulnerable.”

    A handsome statement Mr. DeFrancisis which I very much appreciate. I pray that some day abortion will no longer be a political issue because we will look at it with the same abhorence engendered when we now recalll slavery. I do not know if I will live to see that day, but it will come.

  • I certainly do think it is an act of public disobedience to the Bishops to not only invite the President to speak but to give him an award on top of it – and it is a slap in the face to all Catholics who have built the College up through the years. As a Catholic I expect any institution purporting to be Catholic to be Catholic and uphold the Church’s teachings. That is basic to any group in society that has rules and regulations to be followed. Every Catholic knows the Church’s stand on abortion. Why do people belong to the Catholic Church if they dissent from her teachings? The door is open for them to walk out if don’t like anything the Church teaches. They are not bound to stay. Christ Himself said to take the narrow path. He kicked the money lenders out of the temple. He didn’t mince His words. It’s high time Catholics shook themselves up and realise how morally lax we have become.