Holy Week 2011

Dear Friends

John Greenleaf will return after Easter………Below another brief reflection from T.S. Eliot:

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.


Code Red in Motown: Heresy Alert and Warning in Detroit

The Archbishop of Detroit, Allen H. Vigneron, has issued stern warning to all Catholics in the Archdiocese of Detroit: STAY AWAY FROM THE AMERICAN CATHOLIC COUNCIL on Pentecost weekend because it is heretical and a danger to your faith.

And now the Knights of Columbus have joined the Vigneron crusade:

warning about “the threat from Progressive Modernists within the U.S. Catholic Church.”

What’s going on here?

Archbishop Vigneron has issued a statement condemning the American Catholic Council. Here are the highlights…

(Archdiocese of Detroit) – …Although their stated purpose is to “respond to the Spirit of Vatican II by summoning the Baptized together to demonstrate our re-commitment and the documents issued by the American Catholic Council offer some valid aspirations for the Church, in fact, the goals proposed are largely in opposition to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the Holy Spirit, which inspired the Council.

The archdiocese wishes to commend and embrace all true efforts at Church renewal – the American Church Council’s agenda is not such an effort. Some of the advertised speakers and groups organizing the effort espouse positions which are clearly contrary to Catholic faith, leading to alienation and estrangement from the Church. The Archdiocese of Detroit cautions any Catholic against participating in the American Catholic Council local listening sessions and national gathering in June 2011. Catholic parishes, schools, and institutions are not to host any meetings, gatherings, or “listening sessions” associated with the planning of the June 2011 American Catholic Council. Priests, deacons, and ecclesial lay ministers will want to avoid lending support to such a misguided effort…….

And what exactly are the heretical dangers emanating from the planners of the American Catholic Council?

Their summary of basic Catholic
rights looks authentically Catholic to me:

1. Primacy of Conscience. Every Catholic has the right and responsibility to develop an informed conscience and to act in accord with it.

2. Community. Every Catholic has the right and responsibility to participate in a faith community and the right to responsible pastoral care.

3. Universal Ministry. Every Catholic has the right and responsibility to proclaim the Gospel and to respond to the community’s call to ministerial leadership.

4. Freedom of Expression. Every Catholic has the right to freedom of expression and the freedom to dissent.

5. Sacraments. Every Catholic has the right and responsibility to participate in the fullness of the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church.

6. Reputation. Every Catholic has the right to a good name and to due process.

7. Governance. Every Catholic and every Catholic community have the right to a voice in the selection of leaders and in the manner in which governance and decision making are exercised.

8. Participation. Every Catholic has the right and responsibility to share in the interpretation of the Gospel and Church tradition.

9. Councils. Every Catholic has the right to summon and speak in assemblies where diverse voices can be heard.

10. Guarantee of rights. Church leaders shall respect the rights and responsibilities of the baptized and their faith communities.

Three Closing Observations:

(1) I wish Allen Vigneron would attend the ACC and engage in constructive dialogue.

(2) I plan to attend. I will let you know what I think afterwards…….

(3) Check it out for yourself:  http://americancatholiccouncil.org/


Today’s Seminarians: Tomorrow’s Pastors and Bishops


Seminarians in house dress taking a stroll in front of St. Peter’s in Rome……..

Over coffee last week, I had a long chat with a bright and outgoing young seminarian who will be ordained in July. He is dedicated and intelligent. He has a quick smile and is a handsomely athletic young man. And he is totally committed and obedient to whatever requests the Church will make of him.

Future bishop material? Perhaps.…he IS held in VERY high regard by his bishop and is VERY obedient and VERY conservative in a nineteenth century sort of way.

I told Jim (not his real name of course) that I had just written a letter to Fr. Edward Dougherty, Maryknoll Superior, to protest the planned expulsion from Maryknoll of Fr. Roy Bourgeois  and his forced laicization.

Father Roy Bourgeois….

Seminarian Jim was dumbfounded and very surprised that I would defend Roy Bourgeois:  a “dissident and heretical priest.” In fact he launched into a little tirade against all people who support  (in his words) the “pseudo-ordination” of women.

Before I could get a word in, Jim then stressed how delighted he was that our American bishops are once again “showing some muscle.”

Jim, adjusting his Roman collar,  meant of course Cardinal Donald Wuerl and the USCCB’s condemnation of Sister Elizabeth Johnson’s book:  Quest for the Living God. Our bishops with muscle have banned the book because it opposes “authentic Catholic teaching.”

Time ran out. Jim had to get to class. I had to get an aspirin, for a major theological headache………………….

The Vatican has great plans for today’s seminarians. In coming months we can expect to see a new  mandate from Pope Benedict (or the appropriate papal mouthpiece) that all seminarians be trained in Latin so that they can celebrate the Latin Mass of the Council of Trent. And, certainly to the delight of today’s seminarians who love old-style clerical threads, the word coming from Rome is that the Vatican will re-emphasize the importance of “traditional” clerical dress for priests and the “traditional” ornate dress for bishops…… But for now back to heresy!

Sorry to say, there are a lot of Jims in today’s church. I don’t know what happened to them in their seminary programs, but they all need remedial theological education…..along with their bishops 🙂

For the record………………

Father Roy Bourgeois has publicly supported women’s ordination. And there is every good reason why he should and no good reasons why he should not. Jesus’ early disciples were men AND women. Jesus did not ordain anyone! Ordination was a later creation of the early church. Before ordained ministers, the people who presided at Eucharist were the heads of households. We know that men AND women were such heads of households. And we know today that there is a long tradition of women being ordained in the Church right up through the Middle Ages.

AND……What did Cardinal Wuerl and his episcopal colleagues find so problematic with Elizabeth Johnson’s book?

(1) In our contemporary secularized world, Johnson says, we need to think about God and talk about God in contemporary and not medieval language and thought categories.

(2) Johnson reminds us that all of our names for God are metaphors. I would say: but of course! All of my affectionate names for my wife are metaphors as well! We use special language for those whom we love…..More poetic but certainly appropriate.

(3) Cardinal Wuerl was particularly bothered that Johnson wrote that God suffers along with us when we suffer. I guess he forgot that Jesus – Son of God, God from God — suffered under Pontius Pilate…..

(4) Johnson writes that God is present in all religions. Vatican II said that as well. Maybe some US bishops don’t. WHO then is the deviant Catholic?

(5) But perhaps what really rattles Cardinal Wuerl is that Sister Elizabeth challenges the old boys club’s hang up that GOD HAS TO BE A GUY.!

Cardinal Wuerl

Not Cardinal Wuerl