Our # 1 Problem: Fundamentalism in the Catholic Church


Nostalgia for a pre-Vatican II Golden Age

In relating to fundamentalist Catholics we need to avoid hostile or heated arguments.


(Particular thanks for these reflections to Father Gerald Arbuckle SM author of Culture, Inculturation, and Theologians: A Postmodern Critique)

Nostalgia for a pre-Vatican II Golden Age, when it is assumed that the Church never changed, is the foundation for Catholic fundamentalism which is becoming quite a problem in contemporary church leadership.

The fact is: the Church and its teachings have often changed. Over the years some church statements have been shown to be wrong and were either repealed or allowed to lapse.

Here are some characteristics of contemporary Roman Catholic fundamentalism:

  • A highly selective approach to what Catholic fundamentalists think pertains to the Church’s teaching: Statements  on incidental issues are obsessively affirmed, but papal or episcopal pronouncements on social justice are ignored or considered matters for debate only.
  • Concern for accidentals, not for the substance of issues, e.g., the  stress on Latin for the liturgy, failing to see that this does not pertain to authentic tradition.
  • The vehemence and intolerance with which they attack co-religionists who are striving to relate the Gospel to the world around them according to Vatican II.
  • Attempts to infiltrate governmental structures of the Church in order to obtain legitimacy for their views and to impose them on the whole Church.
  • An elitist assumption that fundamentalists have a kind of supernatural authority and right to pursue and condemn those who disagree with them, including bishops and theologians.
  • A spirituality in which Jesus Christ is portrayed as an unforgiving and punishing God; the overwhelming compassion and mercy of Christ is overlooked.


In relating to fundamentalist thoughtful and concerned Catholics need to avoid hostile or heated arguments. Membership in fundamentalist groups is not a question of logic, but generally of a sincere, but misguided, search for meaning and belonging. Expressions of anger and vigorous disagreement will only affirm people in the rightness of their belief. 

Our best witness to the truths of our Catholic beliefs will be our inner peace built on faith, charity and concern for justice, especially among the most marginalized.

Peace to All!

John Greenleaf 

A New Year — A New Decade – Red Flags to Watch

Observe – Judge – Act




Some developlments that will have implications far into the new decade….



Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix declared that St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, can no longer call itself a Catholic hospital
because of a dispute over whether a procedure performed at the hospital last year was a direct abortion.

“Though we are deeply disappointed, we will be steadfast in fulfilling our mission,” said Linda Hunt, President of St. Joseph’s. “St. Joseph’s hospital will remain faithful to our mission of care, as we have for the last 115 years. Our caregivers deliver extraordinary medical care and share an unmatched commitment to the wellbeing of the communities they serve. Nothing has or will change in that regard.”

“Consistent with our values of dignity and justice, if we are presented with a situation in which a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life, our first priority is to save both patients. If that is not possible we will always save the life we can save, and that is what we did in this case,” said Hunt. “We continue to stand by the decision, which was made in collaboration with the patient, her family, her caregivers, and our Ethics Committee. Morally, ethically, and legally we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save.


Pope Benedict XVI named a former aide to disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston as auxiliary bishop of Indianapolis, making him the heir apparent
for Indiana’s largest Roman Catholic diocese. Indianapolis Archbishop Daniel Buechlein’s response was asked if he and his new auxiliary bishop have known each other a long time. The archbishop replied: “We met over the phone…”

The 52-year-old Christopher Coyne was Law’s spokesman in 2002, when the sexual abuse scandal erupted in the Boston diocese. Law resigned months after a judge unsealed court records in January 2002 that showed he had allowed priests with confirmed histories of molesting children to continue working in parishes.

David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, condemned Coyne’s impending elevation to bishop. “It’s irresponsible and callous for the Pope to promote one of disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law’s top aides to be a bishop. It’s thumbing your nose at the hundreds of men, women and children who were sexually assaulted by Catholic clergy in Boston and Indianapolis,” Clohessy said.


Taking to his blog , Archbishop Timothy Dolan, wrote a piece entitled “Why we need the Catholic League, praising the right-wing Catholic group’s figurehead Bill Donohue. Dolan frames Donohue as a noble defender of the Church from anti-Catholic attacks, but ignores Donohue’s controversial history–only acknowledging that “some may take occasional issue with his style.” But the criticism of Bill Donohue isn’t just about style, it’s about substance too. Specifically, his track record of offensive, untrue and stridently partisan statements raise many questions as to whether the top American bishop should be endorsing him.

Donohue’s problematic past includes promoting discredited links between pedophilia and homosexuality to scapegoat gays for the Church sex abuse
crisis, blaming sex abuse victims for their abuse, calling Catholics he disagrees with “termites” and accusing them of disloyalty, and stoking anti Semitism and anti-Muslim bigotry.


A 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland’s Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police – a disclosure that
victims’ groups described as “the smoking gun” needed to show that the church enforced a worldwide culture of covering up crimes by pedophile priests. The newly revealed letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican’s rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland’s first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits.

The Vatican has now announced that this is all a big misunderstanding. Maybe a case of Teflon cassocks as well as Teflon consciences?

VATICAN – Probably the Biggest Red Flag of All

Pope Benedict has announced that his predecessor will be beatified on 1 May 2011. Pope John Paul II was a tragic pope of great contradiction.
The tragedy lies in the discrepancy between John Paul’s commitment to reform and dialogue in the world and his return to authoritarianism within the church.

It was especially John Paul’s ecclesiastical authoritarianism that contributed to the greatest tragedy of his papacy: the sexual abuse of thousands of children. John Paul II perpetuated a poisonous  environment in which priests were permitted, often repeatedly, to sexually abuse children as long as the criminal behavior was kept secret. All to protect the public imlage of the Church.

“It is clear to an objective bystander that John Paul II was the leader of the Vatican’s cover-up of sexual abuse by clergy,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org. “The facts that have come to light should absolutely delay the current effort to canonize him.”

Santo Subito should be delayed ad Multos Annos….


A Pontifical Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop André-Joseph Leonard, Primate of Belgium. The Mass will take place on the 30th of January at 6:30 p.m. at the Church of Minimes (Minimenstraat 62, 1000 Brussels). In November, Léonard established in this church a new FSSP mission in Brussels. This will be a unique occasion in Belgium as it will be the first Tridentine Mass celebrated by a Primate of Belgium in more than 40 years.

The F.S.S.P. consists of priests and seminarians who intend to pursue the goal of Christian perfection according to a specific charism, which is to offer the Mass and other sacraments according to the Roman Rite as it existed before the liturgical reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council. Thus, the Fraternity uses the Roman Missal, the Roman Breviary, the Pontifical (Pontificale Romanum), and the Roman Ritual in use in that year, the last editions before the revisions that followed the SecondVatican Council.

On January 5th, Pope Benedict appointed Archbishop Léonard to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization along with, among others,  Cardinal William Levada, from the CDF; and Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York. Maybe the New Evangelization will be in Latin as well…


In it’s one hundred and fifty-fourth year the American College of Louvain will be closed in June 2011. One of two – and the oldest – of seminaries operated under the auspices of the  United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the American  College will be closed by the USCCB in June. Latest developments about this unexpected shut-down indicate that very few people believe – even in the halls of the USCCB headquarters in Washington DC – that the official reasons for closing – funding problems and decreased enrollment – are the reasons.

Louvain theologians contributed greatly to the documents and vision of the Second Vatican Council. Perhaps current  US bishops no longer consider Vatican II and a Louvain education worthwhile. They have clearly jumped on the nineteenth century conservative bandwagon to suppport the North American College in Rome….