Heavenly Father, we ask Your blessing on our efforts. Show us the way to spread the Truth of the Catholic faith in the midst of error and infidelity. Fill our hearts with authentic love for our priests, bishops and all the clergy, a love that moves us to unceasing prayer for their souls and to constant exhortation to faithfully fulfill their sacred task of preaching the Whole Truth of the Catholic Faith without compromise.
Grant us wisdom in our deliberations, courage in promoting the truth, prudence in exposing error, and Charity in all the things we do. Bless our Holy Father the Pope by granting him loyalty and fidelity from the bishops and all the clergy of the church.
We ask these things through the intercession of our Holy Mother Mary.
RCFs goal is to defend the Holy Father and the teachings of the Catholic Church. We object to individuals or groups of individuals being allowed access to Catholic Schools, Churches, and Church property to promote any belief, teaching, or idea contrary to Catholic teaching as defined by the Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Holy Roman Catholic Church! We expect every Catholic Priest to follow the Disciplines of the Catholic Church as he promised to do. We expect every Bishop to do all he can to safeguard the souls of our children by exercising his authority to insure proper teaching within Catholic Schools and Parish Religion Programs. We object to any Priest treating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as his personal possession by adding, changing, or removing any part of the Mass on his own authority. When we walk into a Roman Catholic Church or School, we expect true Catholicism!! Is that too much to expect?
I always find it difficult to begin our newsletter. I am never quite sure what to say or how to address the issues that have been raised or answer the questions that come to RCF by mail and phone. But this day, the day after the passing of Dr. William Marra, I believe the Lord has given us direction. I have always had great respect for Bill Marra and have used his words on many occasions. He will be missed. May God bless William Marra.
I recently received a phone call from one RCF member who suggested we wouldnt change anything and basically said we were fighting a loosing battle. This newsletter will serve as a response to that statement.
I would like to tell you of another phone call I received recently. A mother of nine children called at the urging of a priest friend. She was not asking for help for herself but was asking for RCFs help in correcting a situation within the local Church that, in part, helped tear her family apart. Some day soon I may be able to tell you the whole story, but for now it is sufficient for you to know my heart broke for this mother and the crosses she was carrying. While she had been betrayed by those close to her including clergy her Faith remained strong. Unlike the first caller, she accepted her cross and it strengthened her faith.
While visiting my fathers grave this afternoon I looked over at the graves of two young Catholic men, both of whom I knew well, who had taken their own lives. I asked myself if they died in vain. In our small community of Petersburg, once solid Catholic families are now full of broken promises: husbands leaving wives, wives leaving husbands, and everybody deserting the children and their Faith. Why? Our young people are searching for the truth and no one is there to answer them. All they receive is a watered-down, perverted version of Catholicism that gives no comfort or answers when times are hard. We end up with what we have today. Bishop Daniel Ryan, his Vicars General, Frs. Renken & Holinga, and his chancellor, Fr. Costa must take some responsibility for what has happened under their watch. This story is repeated in almost every diocese in America.
The mothers who call RCF will not be told there is nothing we can do. With Gods help all things are possible and we have witnessed many great moments as a result of efforts of Catholics, such as Dr. Marra, who never once suggested retreat.
Retreat is not an option. Father John Hardon, on numerous occasions, has said: "Barring a miracle of grace, one diocese after another in the United States will disappear." It is obvious that Rome is not in control in the U.S. but our faith is not in man. I am convinced that, based on the information we have gathered to date, we will eventually unmask the network of wolves that now have a death grip on the American Church.
Let us now take a look at the facts, where RCF is headed, and what we have learned.
In the two short years RCF has been in existence we have been given much. When we needed spiritual direction and proper guidance our Lord sent us one priest, then another, and another. Almost every base is covered by a member of the clergy. This gives me great peace of mind and an ability to stay focused.
We then needed an attorney: someone to cover our rears in this world, someone who would advise RCF and keep us out of harms way while at the same time risking all. I am convinced James Bendell is that person. Several other law firms have joined in and we thank them all.
We needed help with everything from our web page, to our mailing, to persons to cover and write about events, and individuals came forward and offered time and talent.
Then came our membership, who gathered information and offered their prayers and financial support. We are especially in need of your financial support at this time. A monthly donation from each of our members would move RCF ahead. Thanks so much for all that you, our members, have done.
On page seven of this newsletter is a copy of a letter that has been mailed out to 6,000 households in Springfield. If necessary, it will been sent out in other areas. The letter is self-explanatory.
RCF has located several victims of Bishop Ryans sexual misconduct and have helped them find attorneys. It is my understanding that these individuals have a cause of action against Ryan and lawsuits may be forthcoming. We will keep you informed. Here again, we must ask with what kinds of people Ryan surrounds himself. Fathers Renken, Costa and Holinga. Could they possibly be ignorant of Ryans sexual perversion? Would he surround himself with orthodox holy priests? RCF must work to bring the situation in Springfield to a proper conclusion before we move on. Ryan is the test case, and the Lord shows us the way. The fact that it has gone on for more than a year is a blessing. We have gathered so much information and support because of Ryans refusal to step down as he has been asked. The longer he stays, the more victims we find. In an ironic way, Ryan is leading us to the truth (in more than one diocese). In Gods time, the whole truth will be known.
Ryans Springfield Diocese
This last Halloween the bulletin of St. John Vianney Parish in Sherman, IL (Fr. Costas parish) stated:
"All of you... are invited to come to Mass at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 31, wearing your Halloween costume."
This from a priest (Chancellor) who several months earlier had asked parishioners why Mass attendance was so low at his parish. Father Costa does try, though. In his December 27, 1998 parish bulletin he spoke out against the abuse of human dignity, actions of Kenneth Starr, and partisanship. Costa claims: "This allegedly Christian nation doesnt have a clue."
More than one person in the Springfield Diocese would argue it is Fr. Costa who is clueless.
Father Costa is also involved in diocesan planning on how to deal with too few priests. The reason why this diocese has so few priests is the same reason Costa has low Mass attendance: THERE IS NO FAITH!
The diocesan V. G., the Very Rev. John A. Renken has shared St. James parish in Riverton, IL for some time now with his "co-pastor" the Very Rev. Kenneth Steffen. On occasion Renken has been responsible for dealing with clergy members who were not too happy with Bishop Ryans sexual advances.
While Renken is president-elect of the Canon Law Society of America he has something to be proud of right in his own back yard:
(The following taken from a flyer
being distributed in the diocese)
WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE ALLOWED TO SPREAD THEIR ERRORS IN OUR DIOCESE?
Thurs., Feb. 11, 1999
Dominican Renewal Center
7th and Adams Streets, Riverton, IL
ALWAYS OUR CHILDREN: LESBIAN AND GAY CHRISTIANS AND THEIR FAMILIES seminar sponsored by the radical CATHOLIC PARENTS NETWORK, based in Hyattsville, MD has been scheduled in our diocese. Sister Jeannine Gramick, of DIGNITY and NEW WAYS MINISTRY co-founder fame, and Fr. Robert Nugent, stripped of his faculties to preach and hear confessions in the Washington, DC archdiocese, are the seminar "facilitators". "Always Our Children, a Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children" was published by the Committee on Marriage and the Family of the US Bishops Conference without the input or approval of the majority of bishops. Fr. Nugent is the chief author of this "flawed and defective" document.
Brother Patrick Shea, canon and civil lawyer, advises the bishop on most issues. I had one meeting with Brother Shea over two years ago. He asked me to stop referring to the bishop, in our newsletter, as a "rotten tree". I asked Brother if it was wrong for a Catholic teacher to instruct my children on condom use. He didnt know! He had a hard time answering any question regarding Church teaching on moral issues. Ryan cannot teach the truth when he is living a lie. It could also be the case with those around him.
The December 6 issue of the Catholic Times (Official paper of the Springfield Diocese) there was an article "Drury leaves Catholic Charities after 14 years." The article reported that "Under Drurys direction Catholic Charities has grown and expanded its services, increasing from 80 employees to its present staff of 370". I dont know if that is anything to brag about when you place that 400 % increase in employees against a dropping Catholic population and a priest shortage. But Catholic Charities might be trying to keep up with the chancery. There are those within both the Chancery and Catholic Charities calling for a financial accounting to the Catholic population.
The natives are restless. The once silent pew-sitters at two of Springfields larger parishes, Blessed Sacrament & Christ the King, are now beginning stir.
Clergy and laity alike have expressed concern regarding Father John Burnetts (Blessed Sacrament) behavior. He has raised eyebrows with everything from a faked death at a teen Mass to turning away Fr. Paul Marx of Human Life International. Burnett also supports Renew 2000.
Fr. Lanze at Christ the King offended some when he gave the Legion of Mary prayer group a book entitled "A Reflection Booklet for Small Christian Communities": "Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA". Readers are encouraged to join their local chapter of Pax Christi. One parish member offered an opinion of the book; "As you read through it you will note that it is using the illicit New Testament and Psaltery. Also, as the group progresses, the items it uses such as water, candles, rocks, salt, the circle are all part of Wicca (Witchcraft)."
While RCF has large amounts of information regarding Bishop Ryans sexual misconduct, James Bendell, RCFs attorney, has gathered some information regarding allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of three other bishops. Unfortunately, all this abuse of power on the part of American Bishops seems to have a homosexual element to it. "You cannot teach the truth when you are living a lie."
Look for a diocese with no vocations and you might just find a homosexually active bishop. How can I say such a thing? Scripture and Church teaching tell us that an absence of vocations is the same as a branch cut from its vine. No fruit, no life. Lack of faith and a push for social justice is always present in these dioceses. Bishop Fulton Sheen in his sermons spoke of those who are guilty of some unrepentant sin. He claims they turn to "Social Justice" to ease their conscience. How true. In diocese after diocese there is a constant push for "Social Justice" while, at the same time, the true Faith is perverted.
Watch out for bishops who support homosexual groups that contradict Church teaching.
In the document "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons" (October 1, 1986), from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
Cardinal Ratzinger states: "All support should be withdrawn from any organizations which seek to undermine the teachings of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely. Such support, or even the semblance of such support, can be gravely misinterpreted. Special attention should be given to the practice of scheduling religious services and the use of Church buildings by these groups, including the facilities of Catholic schools and colleges. To some, such permission to use Church property may seem only just and charitable; but in reality it is contradictory to the purpose for which these institutions were founded, it is misleading and often scandalous".
There are several homosexual groups that fall into this category. "Dignity", "New Ways Ministry", and the Catholic Parents Network under the direction of Robert Nugent, SDS and Jeannine Gramick, SSND are three such pro-homosexual groups.
The following are quotes taken from the web page of Dignity of Chicago.
VISION STATEMENT OF DIGNITY/CHICAGO
Adopted July 10, 1994
"Dignity/Chicago is a Roman Catholic community that affirms the intrinsic goodness of the lives and relationships of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals and the union of our spirituality and sexuality...
We believe that God, through Jesus Christ, calls us without regard to gender, sexual orientation, clerical/lay status or race to participate fully in union with God, forming the church and carrying out ministries. Thus, we are committed to the elimination of any structures or policies of our Church that are hypocritical or unjust. We move toward making these beliefs a reality through our actions and spiritual lives as individuals and as a community...
LesBiGay Sexuality: Part Of God's Plan
We are Dignity: gay, lesbian, and bisexual Catholics, family and friends...
We believe that we have a particular perspective on human sexuality and relationships which, as it unfolds, enriches the world and, in its own way, anticipates the reign of God...
We meet the special challenge to be sexual persons and disciples of Jesus, and we stand firm in the conviction that we can live responsibly as gay and lesbian Christians and grow in likeness to Christ. We have felt this challenge more deeply than many of our brothers and sisters because Church officials have not only condemned the genital expression of our sexuality but have even regarded our sexuality as disordered. Despite our commit-meant to the Church, we are convinced that such condemnation is not the word of God...
Living And Growing As Sexual Christians
...We see sexuality as an intrinsic, integral, and essential aspect or our human personhood, not a separate one. We reclaim our sexuality and its genital expression as intrinsically good.
Conclusion: As members of Dignity, we are Christs disciples, lesbian and gay People Of God in the body of Christ, part of the Catholic Tradition. Our sexuality is Gods holy gift to us..."
"New Ways Ministry"
"Gramick & Nugent: Sr. Jeannine Gramick, signer of NYT 's pro-abortion ad, on record as affirming committed homosexual relationships. Fr. Robert Nugent, co-founder with Gramick of New Ways, stripped of faculties by Washington, D.C.s Cardinal Hickey.
New Ways Ministry: Est. 1977 by Sr. Gramick & Fr. Nugent. Advocates inclusion of active homosexuals in church ministry and ordination. Travels the country with educational seminars, workshops & retreats to promote changes in the Church teaching regarding homosexuality."
(The Catholic Advocate, http://mountain-air.com/catholicadvocate)
How are these pro-homosexual groups
The following is a direct quote from the vocations web page of the diocese of
Joliet in Illinois:
Religious orders and dioceses are seeking people who are sexually integrated, regardless of whether they are homosexuals or heterosexuals. Being sexually integrated means having a strong sense of self and understanding one's own effective needs.
Bishop Ryan is from the Joliet Diocese and we will have more information on Joliet in future issues of A.M.D.G.
Based on information RCF has received from seminarians, many seminaries accept homosexuals and homosexual activity. We know of more than one seminary were staff members were sexually involved with seminarians.
Fr. Enrique T. Rueda, in his book The Homosexual Network states:
A crucial element in the building of the religious homosexual network is the seminary...
Virtually every issue of Bondings (the publication of New Ways Ministry) reports the participation of its staff in seminary activities, especially Catholic seminaries in the Washington, D.C. area...
The First National Symposium on Homosexuality and the Catholic Church sponsored by New Ways Ministry and featuring apparently all pro-homosexual speakers, was originally scheduled to be held at the Holy Trinity Mission Seminary, a Roman Catholic institution located in Silver Springs Maryland, on November 20-22 1981.
Also according to Father Rueda:
On July 28, 1980, a meeting took place in San Francisco between representatives of Dignity and two Catholic bishops. Archbishop Quinn of San Francisco, and Bishop Roger Mahony of Stockton, California met with Frank Scheuren, national president of Dignity; Chis Patterson, regional director of Dignitys Region IX; and James Ehrhart and Kenneth Kamman, co-chairmen of the San Francisco chapter of Dignity....
The homosexual representatives, obviously, had good reasons to be satisfied with the meeting. They had not only been recognized by the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, but they had been promised participation in episcopal decisions on the dealings of the Church with their own kind.
The recent National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) Pastoral statement "Always Our Children"(AOC) has made the case.The May 10, 1997 issue of the Sun-Sentinel of Ft. Lauderdale, FL told how Rev. Robert Nugent helped the NCCB with with AOC. After its release the Vatican found AOC flawed and ordered changes made.The following is quoted from the November 20, 1998 issue of The Gay People's Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Cleveland.
Bishop to preside at Dignity prayer service
Cleveland - The Most Rev. Anthony J. Pilla, bishop of Cleveland, [Pilla was past president of the National Conference of Bishops] will preside at Dignity Cleveland's 25th anniversary prayer service, to be held in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist downtown.
Dignity invites all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics, their families and friends to join them...
The service is set for Friday, December 4, at 7 pm at the Cathedral, located on the corner of E. 9th and Superior Ave.
The prayer service will be followed by a reception with Bishop Pilla at 8 p.m. in the Rappe Room of the Catholic Center located on the Cathedral campus.
There will be a meeting on November 22, following Dignity Cleveland's monthly celebration of the Eucharist at the 10:30 a.m. Mass at Our Lady of Peace church at E. 125th Street & Shaker Boulevard, to discuss ways to make the December 4 prayer service a successful and spiritually moving event.
What are we to think? RCF has information regarding the homosexual activity of several bishops. We will not make this information public unless all other avenues to correct these situations have been exhausted. These bishops and priests need our help in finding their way back.
He (the priest) sins in the midst of light,and therefore his sin, as has been said, is a sin of malice: he cannot allege ignorance, for he knows the great evil of mortal sin: he cannot plead weakness, because he knows the means by which, if he wishes, he can acquire strength; if he is unwilling to adopt the means, the fault is entirely his own. According to St. Thomas, the sin of malice is that which is committed with knowledge. And in another place he says: Every sin committed through malice is against the Holy Ghost. We know from St. Matthew that the sin against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven, neither in this world nor the world to come. That is on account of the blindness caused by sins of malice they shall be pardoned only with great difficulty. (The Duties and Dignities of the Priest by St. Alphonsus De Liguori)
Roman Catholic Faithful, Inc.
To the residents of Joliet, Springfield, Effingham, Decatur, Beardstown, and Jacksonville, Illinois
RE: The sexual misconduct of Bishop Daniel L. Ryan, Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield and past Chancellor and auxiliary Bishop of the Joliet Diocese.
For the past two years Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF) has been investigating allegations of corruption, including sexual misconduct with minors, on the part of Bishop Ryan. Recent developments have prompted RCF to send out this request for information and help to Springfield area residents. This letter will also be mailed out to communities within the Joliet Diocese as well.
Roman Catholic Faithful, Inc. is an organization made up of orthodox Catholics committed to defending the whole truth of the Catholic Faith and restoring the integrity of the hierarchy of the Church. We have members in all 50 states and several foreign countries.
RCF has gathered statements from male clergy and laymen with whom Ryan has engaged in sexual relations and/or solicited sexual favors, in some cases for money. We have provided much of this information to Church authorities who, for the most part, have seemed disinterested in seriously investigating this corruption. We have interviewed two men who Ryan picked up off the street when he was "cruising for sex." Both of these men were minors at the time this occurred, and both were paid by Ryan for these sexual favors. (More detailed information including the name of at least one of Ryans sexual partners, is available upon request).
Two sources have confirmed that as recently as the last week in September, Ryan was "on vacation" while traveling alone with a young man with whom he had previous sexual contact. Because we do not know of outside sources of income for Bishop Ryan, we assume he has been using money from the collection plate to pay for his sexual activities. We also know that Ryan has used his position of authority to intimidate and pressure those who seek to challenge him.
As Catholics, we believe that we have a responsibility to clean up our own house. However, we are also asking for the assistance of persons of other faiths and all persons of good will.
In an effort to bring about Ryans removal as bishop of this diocese and to get this man psychiatric help (in addition to repentance), we are asking for your cooperation. If you have any information regarding Ryans misconduct or know of someone who may have this information, please contact RCF.
The Springfield State Journal-Register, a Copley newspaper, has chosen not to cover this story in sufficient detail. With your help, that might change. RCF believes that the public has a right to know when a person who holds himself out as a religious leader and role model acts in such a manner.
If requested, the names of those who contact RCF will be kept confidential....
NOTE: The Wanderer
February, 5, 1998 / March, 13, 1997 / February 20, 1997
The Prodigal President -
Gosh, can you believe it's 2023 already? I'm still writing "22" on nearly everything. Seems like yesterday I was sitting in first grade celebrating the century change!
I know we haven't chatted since Christmas. Sorry. Anyway, I have some difficult news and really didn't want to call and talk face to face.
Ted's had a promotion and I should be up for a hefty raise this year if I keep putting in those crazy hours. You know how I work at it. Yes we're still struggling with the bills.
Timmy's been "okay" at kindergarten although he still complains about going. But then he wasn't happy about day care either so what can I do?
He's become a real problem, Mom. He's a good kid, but quite honestly he's an unfair burden at this time in our lives. Ted and I have talked this through and through and finally made a choice. Plenty of other families have made it and are much better off.
Our pastor is supportive and says hard decisions are necessary. The family is a "system" and the demands of one member shouldn't be allowed to ruin the whole. He told us to be prayerful, consider ALL the factors and do what is right to make the family work. He says that even though he probably wouldn't do it himself, the decision really is ours. He was kind enough to refer us to a children's clinic near here so at least that part's easy.
I'm not an uncaring mother. I do feel sorry for the little guy. I think he overheard Ted and me talking about "it" the other night. I turned around and saw him standing on the bottom step in his pj's with the little bear you gave him under his arm and his eyes sort of welling up.
Mom, the way he looked at me just about broke my heart. But I honestly believe this is better for Timmy, too. It's not fair to force him to live in a family that can't give him the time and attention he deserves. And PLEASE don't give me the kind of grief grandma gave you over your abortions. It is the same thing, you know.
We've told him he's just going in for a vaccination. Anyway, they say the termination procedure is painless.
I guess it's just as well you haven't seen much of him.
Love to Dad.
by James Bendell
Roman Catholic Faithful recently conducted an investigation into the Diocese of Winona, Minnesota. The investigation continues, but the results thus far illustrate the soft underbelly of yet another Amchurch diocese that withers on the vine as Modernism, liturgical abuses and sex scandals rip at the heart of the Church.
For the ten year period ending in December, 1997, John Vlazny was bishop of Winona, a small diocese in rural Minnesota. Vlazny was previously an auxiliary bishop in Chicago, and liked to point out that he was one of the earliest bishops ordained by Cardinal Bernadin. At the time Vlazny took over in Winona, the Diocese had been in the national news because of a $1 million damage award assessed against the Winona diocese and the archdiocese of St. Paul as the result of the pedophilia of Fr. Thomas Adamson.
FR. GERALD MAHON
Some of the Winona parishioners described Vlazny's rule in Winona as "autocratic". He apparently did not get along well with persons who were not "yes men." One of those "yes men" was Fr. Gerald Mahon, Vicar General under Bishop Vlazny. Mahon had been a rector at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary for 17 years and was involved in the diocesan transition when Vlazny was appointed bishop. Vlazny centralized power in Mahon. In the 1994 Official Catholic Directory, Mahon was listed as Vicar General, a diocesan consultor, a member of the finance council, on the diocesan board of administration, moderator of the curia, in charge of the continuing education of priests, an ex officio member and a vice president of the priests' council, head of the Priestly Assignments Committee and a member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. These positions were held simultaneously.
As Vicar General, one of Mahon's duties was to be the prime investigator of accusations of sexual abuse against the clergy. This role was curious in view of the fact that Mahon had been accused of sexual misconduct by two seminarians. Mahon denied the allegations. Yet, the diocese settled for a sum believed to be in the range of $100,000, a sum described by bishop Vlazny as "nuisance value." Details of the settlement are shrouded in secrecy. Prior to the publication of this story, RCF wrote to Bishop Vlazny and (now) Monsignor Mahon to get further details concerning this case and to address questions about possible other sexual allegations against Mahon. No response was received, so these reports can neither be affirmed or denied at this time.
Parishioners in Winona describe Mahon as having the peculiar habit of talking very loud with persons before Mass, often making it impossible for silent prayer. He has also done this during Eucharistic Adoration. During the "sign of peace", Mahon enjoys running up and down the aisles shaking hands. His homilies extol the virtues of the world's religions, and he has conducted joint services with Protestant ministers in his church. Mahon also enjoys changing the words of the Mass, including the Consecration. One of the parishioners recalls Mahon saying, during the Consecration, "We believe this is the Body of Christ." Mahon refers to the altar as the "supper table." Mahon was also known for making vulgar, sexual remarks at conferences.
At exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Mahon would frequently let lay persons pick up the Monstrance and bless the congregation. On one occasion, a parishioner recalls Fr. Mahon interrupting the Lamb of God' to remind the congregation to support the youth sports team. On Easter, he had the people loudly proclaim, "Wow, Christ is risen!" Msgr. Mahon is currently pushing for a $1.4 million renovation for an existing beautiful church. Plans call for a "church in the round" format where all the faithful will face each other. There will also be a huge baptistry and fountain. No word yet on the goldfish.
Msgr. Mahon is obviously a busy priest. RCF learned that, while hearing Confessions, Mahon will tell penitents confessing certain sins, "hurry up... that's not important." Before Mahon, the prior Pastor of this church was one Fr. McCully who, among other things, refused to give Communion on the tongue.
OTHER PRIESTS WHO ROOSTED IN WINONA
RCF learned of a number of Winona priests whose behavior scandalized the faithful, and probably contributed to the dearth of religious vocations in the diocese.
Fr. Mark Santos
Fr. Santos was the Pastor of St. Bridget's parish. Fr. Santos kept a "friend" by the name of Carl Myrick living at the parish Rectory. Santo described him as a "houseguest" and street person who he was trying to help, but it was later learned that they had been together for 15 years.
At the Rectory, Santos had a private phone line put in for Myrick and purchased him a private file cabinet for his own personal use. In November of 1992, several of the church caretakers were meeting at the Rectory to count church money. Because the heat had failed in the usual meeting room, they began struggling to find the correct thermostat to adjust the heat. While walking into one of the rooms they discovered several "triple X gay" porn videos. A later police investigation discovered between 150 to 200 porn videos at the Rectory. One police investigator noted that it was the largest collection of pornographic videos the police had ever seen. 27 books of child pornography were also found at the scene.
Fr. Santos claimed he knew nothing of the pornographic videos and magazines and that he "didn't realize all this baggage" that came with Myrick. On another occasion a local newspaper reported that Santos refused to comment on whether he knew the pornography was there, but stated that he believed Myrick's personal life should have been respected because it "did not involve other people." Bishop Vlazny dragged his feet in doing anything about this situation. In fact, Santos continued to stay at the parish for another 9 months, and Myrick stayed there most of the time as well. To add insult to injury, Vlazny complained that the church caretakers had "broken into" the Rectory at the time they found the porn videos. This statement was outrageous in view of the fact that the caretakers had been issued keys to the Rectory by the diocese. One of the men confronted Vlazny and said, "if you think we broke the law then turn us over to the police." Vlazny did nothing.
During this crisis, the ever-helpful Fr. Mahon was heard to say, "I know how Fr. Santos must feel, someone once broke into my Rectory."
Although Vlazny appeared to be nonplused by the scandal, other parishioners felt differently. 85 of St. Bridget's parishioners signed a petition calling for the removal of Fr. Santos as their Pastor. The petition questioned Bishop Vlazny's integrity in allowing Santos to remain at the parish and demanded an apology from Vlazny to the four men who discovered the pornography. The initial response from spokesman Fr. Mahon was "The bishop desires deeply that we can move forward....." Vlazny eventually apologized.
Myrick was charged with possession of child pornography. He failed to attend his first mandatory court appearance. Apparently Fr. Santos had taken him to Florida for a vacation. Myrick was represented by the Winona diocesan attorney. Myrick plead guilty. He later died of AIDS. Santos left St. Bridget's church.
Fr. Santos past and future revolves around the Archdiocese of Milwaukee where he was ordained. A phone call to the Milwaukee diocese confirms that he is still listed as a priest of that diocese. However, the Milwaukee diocese states that he is currently "on assignment" as a prison chaplain in California, and resides in the city of Hawthorne. One parishioner told RCF that Santos is a chaplain for a juvenile prison. RCF would appreciate receiving any information about the current duties and assignments of Fr. Santos.
Fr. Daniel "call me Dan" Derneck
Holy Redeemer parish is located in the town of Eyota. The former pastor, Fr. Schaffer, was a devout, orthodox priest loved by his congregation. Fr. Schaffer had a strong devotion to the Rosary, heard Confessions before all Masses, promoted Eucharistic Adoration and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and permitted and encouraged parishioners to receive Communion on the tongue. In his 80's, Fr. Schaffer finally retired. He was replaced by Fr. Derneck from Marysburg. He proceeded to abolish Eucharistic Adoration and discontinued Confession before Masses. Eventually, regular Confessions were abolished, and Confession was available only "upon request." Fr. Derneck claimed that there was no need for Confession, and that it was only for people who were insecure. Derneck also stated that there are no mortal sins and there are no demons. He said that what was formerly believed to be manifestations of demons was actually mental illness. He stated that children should not be told about sin because it makes them feel guilty. He announced that there was no Purgatory. He said that abortion is not a sin "if its from the heart." When some parishioners asked for first Friday Mass, he said "no" because it was his day off. When Fr. Schaffer expressed a willingness to celebrate first Friday Mass, Derneck refused to allow it. Derneck was known for his bad temper. When parishioners asked for Eucharistic Adoration, Derneck stated, "I may be God's servant but I'm not His slave." The Legion of Mary was abolished and the members were told to get "their things" out of the church. He publicly stated that the Legion was not welcome in the church. He said that its members were "evil people" trying to tell other people how to live. Derneck allowed a nun to deliver the homily at Mass. He responded to criticism by stating, "I can do whatever I want; I am the Presider. You are just like the Pharisees and Sadducees." Derneck made it a point of knowing every parishioner's birthday and kept this information on cards. After every Mass, the congregation sang Happy Birthday to whosoever birthday it was. After the Consecration, Derneck would leave the altar and run around the church trying to shake as many hands as possible. Fr. Derneck also changed the words of Consecration during Mass, and paraphrased other parts of the Mass. When infants were Baptized he allowed the parents do administer the Sacrament. When bodies were interred in a grave, he allowed the bereaved to bless the casket with Holy Water.
Parishioners complained to Bishop Vlazny about Fr. Derneck. His response was "Give him time." When they complained to Vlazny about the practices and conduct of other priests they would be repeatedly told, "you have to work this out with your priest." At one point they reported to Vlazny that a particular priest was using invalid matter for Communion and was using a glass chalice. In response, Vlazny gave them a book on the topic and told them to look it up themselves. When they brought this to Vlazny's attention again after a Confirmation ceremony, he snapped, "I can't be expected to know everything." (Although Vlazny felt informed enough to support the local referendum on a pro-gay rights ordinance). Vlazny also allowed liturgical dancing at a Christmas Mass he celebrated seven or eight years ago.
The Strange Case of Fr. Ernster
Fr. Ernster was made Pastor of one parish where he immediately instituted the use of altar girls before it was permitted by Rome. When parishioners complained about this, Fr. Ernster told them they were "backward" and mocked them.
In 1992, one of the parishioners asked to hand out pro-life literature from the Minnesota Citizens for Life. Fr. Ernster forbade this. She tried to approach Fr. Ernster after Mass to discuss the issue. He yelled at her. Not deterred, she continued to follow Fr. Ernster and continued talking about the pro-life issue. Ernster then screamed at her, grabbed the prayer books he had in his hand and shoved them into her breasts. This was particularly painful because this parishioner had just finished nursing her baby. Ernster screamed that she "had no right to impose her values" on anyone else. The parishioner bravely continued discussing the topic and asked, "Father, why can't we address the abortion issue from the pulpit?" Ernster continued screaming, eventually causing the parishioner's husband to come into the church, at which time Ernster told him, "Get your wife out of here!" The parishioner wrote a letter of complaint to the diocese. Padre Numero Uno Gerald Mahon called her up and asked if she was going to sue the diocese. She never received an apology.
The nuns of Assisi Heights
The Sisters of Saint Francis have a presence in the diocese at St. Mary's Hospital and at their religious House at Assisi Heights. Mass at Assisi Heights often contains variations of the following liturgical abuses:
the priest skips the washing of hands.
The Gloria and/or Creed is omitted.
after the offering of gifts is made, the priest skips the remainder of the Mass up until the "pray brethren".
The words of the Lectionary are changed. Sometimes the word Father is replaced by Father/Mother. Sometimes the priest refuses to use the word Lord.
The priest consumes the Body and Blood after the congregation does.
There is no purification of the Chalice.
Invalid matter is often used, and it is also frequently in biscuit form so that crumbs drop to the floor.
Non-Catholics are invited to receive Communion.
Ministry at the hospital is in chaos. When a sick person calls for a priest, a Protestant minister is frequently sent. Things are doubly confusing because the two or three Catholic chaplains wear a coat and tie instead of the Roman collar. Protestant ministers routinely take calls for priests. The homosexualist organization PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) held a seminar at Assisi Heights with the blessings of the sisters there. This occurred in 1998. Sister Pat Keen gave a talk in which she said that Always Our Children was a "good start" but the church still had "a long way to go." She condemned Humanae Vitae. Fr. Mike Crosby spoke in favor of the ordination of women. Fr. Paul Nelson spoke in favor of contraception (RCF confesses to being a bit puzzled why PFLAG is worried about contraception). The keynote speaker at the conference was Will Fellows, author of FARM BOYS: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest.
The brochure promoting the conference stated:
Gay people need a loving community within which they can be out of the closet, heal their wounds, learn to accept themselves, integrate their spiritual and sexual life, nurture their spiritual development, learn to celebrate their sexuality in the presence of God, and find models for their relationships. They also need community support to find the courage to undertake the struggle for justice.
The conference condemned "heterosexism".
The president of the local PFLAG, Joe Nix, was also invited to give a talk at Pax Christi parish by Fr. Jim Callahan. Interestingly, Nix is a former Catholic priest who now attends a Congregationalist church. He also routinely writes a column for the diocesan newspaper.
The Easter Tree
One year at St. Pius X parish, an "Easter tree" was substituted for a crucifix for veneration at the Good Friday liturgy. This was made from an old piece of driftwood. The people were urged to come forward and venerate this tree instead the crucifix.
At one parish, the CCD teachers were forced to use the text Valuing Values by Fr. John Fozzetti, a known dissenter. Some of the CCD teachers openly dissented from Humanae Vitae. At one parish children were shown a sex ed video which presented abortion as an option for pregnancy. A text book was used that contained birth control information and which presented homosexuality as a lifestyle option. When one teacher complained about it, the parish priest defended it saying, "the world is overpopulated." The director of religious education for Winona is Sr. Joanne Loescher. At one time Sr. Loescher attempted to invite dissident priest Fr. Richard McBrien to speak at a CCD conference, but was somehow stopped.
After his ten year stint as bishop of Winona, John Vlazny was rewarded by being made Archbishop of Portland in December of 1997.
RCF continues its investigation into the Winona diocese as well as Immaculate Heart Seminary in Winona. As reported previously, RCF has received reports that several bishops from around the country were involved in sex with seminarians there. RCF would appreciate receiving any information on these cases, and will keep the source of information confidential.
Letter to the Editor
To the Editor:
Father Kevin Laughery, the new Pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Springfield, IL, stated to the Pastoral Council in July 1998, shortly after his arrival,
"I will not make any changes without the people knowing about it first."
On December 31, l998, Fr. Laughery and his parents (who belong to a parish in Oreana, Ill.) removed the more than l00-year old altar rail from Sacred Heart Parish without so much as a word to parishioners or the Pastoral Council. Sacred Heart is one of the last churches in the Springfield Diocese that has not been hit by the diocesan renovation/wrecking crew.
The following day, January 1, I approached Father in the back of Sacred Heart Church before the "9:06 a.m." Mass. I reminded Father of his promise to the people. He replied;
"I saw the way it went with the hymnals." (There were objections at the Council meeting to the new hymnals he wanted to purchase).
I reminded him that neither Rome nor Vatican II required the removal of altar railings. He mentioned that "Environment and Art in Catholic Worship (EACW)" was what he was using as his reason.
EACW is not approved by the National Council of Catholic Bishops nor by the Holy See.
Mention should be made of one document that does NOT have canonical authority (is not Canon Law). This document is part of a class of documents issued by the U.S. Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy that does not have binding authority, for one reason, because they have not been approved by the National Council of Catholic Bishops or the Holy See.
ENVIRONMENT AND ART IN CATHOLIC WORSHIP (EACW) is frequently used as a basis for major, austere, and often aesthetically displeasing renovations in parishes. When parishioners question these proposed changes, they are often toldINCORRECTLYthat EACW is the Church's liturgical law and that the U.S. bishops approved it. The bishops DIDN'T. EACW is the publication of a single committee and is not law ....
This caution concerning the non-binding status of this document is echoed by its critics, such as Msgr. Peter J. Elliott, a noted author on the liturgy, who states: Published by the U.S. Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy in l978, this influential document seems dated--insofar as it reflects an era of austere taste. Moreover, together with useful practical advice, it includes unsound opinions regarding the altar (nos. 72-73), the tabernacle (nos. 78-80) and Eucharistic vessels (no. 96) [Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite 342].
...THE JURIST, the canon law journal of the Catholic University of America, published an article in l996 by the "dean" of liturgical lawyers, Monsignor Frederick R. McManus, titled "Environment and Art in Catholic Worship," which stated: [T]he [EACW] statement is not, nor does it purport in any way to be, a law or general decree of the conference of bishops emanating from the NCCB's legislative power; and neither is it a general executory decree of the body. Thus it lacks, and there is no suggestion that it has, juridically binding or obligatory force, for which both two-thirds affirmative vote of the conference's DE JURE membership and the RECOGNITIO of the Apostolic See are required [THE JURIST 55:350]. (Mass Confusion / The dos and donts of Catholic Worship by James Akin page 31 & 32)
Parishioners, with this information we should be able to demand our altar rail back. How many Churches all over the U.S. have been destroyed because they didn't know that EACW was not even approved by the National Catholic Council of Bishops?
In the same conversation in the back of Church on New Year's Day, I also mentioned to Father that he was having the people at St. Patrick's stand for the consecration and that is against the Laws of the Church. He asked what business was that of mine what he did at St. Patrick's? I reminded him that he wanted us all to be ONE and work together; and also, that the Masses were eliminated and rearranged between the two Parishes so we could attend either one. I told Father that the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM), no. 21 stated that the laity must kneel for the Consecration because that was the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ so we should kneel. I mentioned that I had a copy of it in my van if he wanted one.
I also asked him to supply me with the document that says that parishioners should stand for the Consecration.
It is about time that we at Sacred Heart stand up firmly but in Christian charity for the things that we now know that we have legal rights to by the documents of the Church as stated above. We the laity are EMPOWERED! This is reinforced by Vatican II itself when it states:
"By the reason of the knowledge, competence, or preeminence which they have, the LAITY are EMPOWEREDindeed sometimes OBLIGEDto manifest their opinion on those things which pertain to the good of the Church. If the occasion should arise, this should be done through the institutions established by the Church for that purpose, and always with truth, and prudence, and with reverence and charity toward those who, by reason of their office, represent the person of Christ. (Vatican Council II. DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON THE CHURCH, no. 37), emphasis added
There are many ways to make our position known if at first we are met with a negative response. These challenges can be met in a way that is charitable yet profoundly effective.
by Stephanie Block
Ironically, "wisdom" has become the weapon of choice among radical feminists seeking to topple what they perceive to be a "patriarchal" scriptures "patriarchal" Church, , and a gender-specific god.
A recent issue of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocesan paper, The Mirror, gives plenty of ink to the problem: "... Sr. [Camilla] Burns was attracted to Wisdom literature and wrote her dissertation on the personification of Wisdom in a section of the Book of Proverbs. But the popularity of Wisdom has transcended academia. Environmentalists were attracted to the theology of the creating God. Those in interreligious dialogue recognized that nearly all traditions contain teachings similar to those in Wisdom and seized on its unifying potential. Yet much of its attraction has been for feminists craving feminine images of the divine. Wisdom literature contains numerous references to Lady Wisdom, or "Sophia" in Greek. Although there is some disagreement as to whether Sophia refers to a quality of God or a description of God, many feminist scholars have grasped on to the image because of its ability to expand the metaphors for God beyond exclusively male ones." [Heidi Schlumpf, "Wisdom Literature in Scripture Offers Advice, Feminine Imagery," The Mirror, December 4, 1998.]
The push is on: can Sophia become a palatable alternative to "The Holy One, Blessed Be He," or "the Lord God, Almighty," or "Our Heavenly Father?" "It [use of the term "Sophia"] breaks us out of any literal image of God as male," Fr. Leo LeFebure, a professor of systemic theology at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago was quoted as saying. "Though [LeFebure] expects the image of Sophia to become more familiar in the future, he is unsure of the long-term impact. It's too early to tell if Sophia will reemerge as a central name for God.' he said." [Heidi Schlumpf, op. cit.]
Of course, vigorous nursing is a good way to push the "trend" forward. Only a year ago, The Mirror described a meditation to the Four Winds and Sophia. [March 14, 1997] "Turning in four directions, the group celebrated the gifts of air, fire, water, and earth using wind chimes, incense, a carafe of water, and a pot of soil. At each direction the group sang, Sophia, come flow through us...'"
Someone in the diocese had the temerity to complain and was blandly told to personally observe the "orthodox meditation" for himself. [Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, December 1997, p. 2] The current Mirror article identifies the sort of conclusions some people may draw: "The term Sophia' has led some to cry paganism and goddess worship," the diocesan paper purrs, while reassuring its readers that the "Sophia" under discussion is meant to be understood as "an image and name for God" that has an ancient and honorable tradition in Christianity. The mistrust of "some," the reader infers, is unfounded.
The difficulty with such a patronizing attitude is that the use of the term "Sophia" in goddess worship has not been manufactured in the alarmist imaginations of theologically rigid Catholic Neanderthals, but has been observed, over and over again, in the rituals of allegedly Catholic practitioners.
A prayer card sold at the 1996 Call to Action Conference substitutes the word Sophia for God: "In the beginning was SOPHIA. Sophia was in God's presence;
Sophia was God...Sophia became human and lived among us and we saw her glory, the glory that is hers as God incarnate." The composer of this card roved through a passage of Scripture, substituting words at whim. The result highly is flawed. Jesus/God may be wisdom incarnate, but wisdom is not Jesus/God. God is the larger entity Who encompasses the attribute. Yet fellow Catholics are asked to swallow the drivel as "orthodox."
Kathleen Howley, of Catholic World Report, covered the 1996 Woman's Ordination Conference (WOC). The "Catholic" women there expressed their intention to overthrow Church hierarchy by attacking the topmost crown of the structure: "Blessed be Sophia. Blessed be her holy name. Blessed be all women: young, generative, and wise. Blessed be Sophia's sisters who keep alive the discipleship of equals. Blessed be all children who tell the stories of their foremothers..." This Sophia, who the Catholic is asked to name in the place of God, sounds even less like the Call to Action Sophia, who at least maintains a working relationship with scripture. The WOC Sophia seems singularly preoccupied with gender politics.
Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, in her book She Who Is [Crossroad Publishing Co., 1996], articulates the issue: "In a word, SHE WHO IS discloses in an elusive female metaphor the mystery of Sophia-God as sheer, exuberant, relational aliveness in the midst of the history of suffering, inexhaustible source of new being in situations of death and destruction, ground of hope for the whole created universe, to practical and critical effect...Speaking rightly about God from a feminist perspective means weaving the stories of women and women's way of being into the stories of God that the Jewish and Christian traditions habitually tell." [p. 243-244]
Therefore, speaking from a "feminist perspective" means that the speaker is no longer concerned to merely repeat the revealed truth -- either the "stories" truly told, or the theology the stories expressed -- as our Jewish and Christian forefathers and foremothers faithfully preserved it, often at the cost of their lives. Rather, the feminist perspective must embroider and refashion the truths of the faith into something more flattering. Whether this fashion produces an image of stone or of mental rationalizing, the product is vain and false idolatry.
Genuine "Wisdom" Scripture warns the faithful where idolatry leads: "It was not enough for them to err about the knowledge of God, but as they lived in a great war of ignorance, they call so many and so great evils peace. For either they sacrifice their own children, or use hidden sacrifices, or keep watches full of madness, so that now they keep neither life nor marriage undefiled...for the worship of abominable idols is the cause, and the beginning and end of all evils." [Wisdom 14: 22-24,27.] Idolatry, Wisdom literature makes clear, leads to moral perversion.
So we find that at the ecumenical 1993 Re-Imagining Conference (at which there were 234 Roman Catholic participants, including three representatives from three orders of nuns), program notes glowingly describe the creation of a liturgy for responsible procreation in which a woman prays to Sophia for the wisdom to decide whether or not to abort her unborn child. [p. 6] The same Conference heard "Roman Catholic" Mary Hunt preach that "grace is lesbian" and that "sexual expression on my part [as a lesbian] is a human right."
From a simple and somewhat artless misuse of divine epithets (O Prince of Peace, O Rod of Jesse, O Wisdom, etc.), devotees of Sophia are observed and recorded as developing a self-centered and immoral spirituality, which the goddess approves and blesses. "Our maker Sophia," the Re-Imaging Blessing Over Milk and Honey intones, "we are women created in your image: with the hot blood of our wombs we give form to new life. With the courage of our convictions, we pour out our lifeblood for justice...with the nectar between our thighs, we invite a lover...with our warm body fluids, we remind the world of its pleasures and sensations." Gone is the Creator Who engenders new life; instead is the feminine self, reveling in narcissistic glee.
How can Sophia, therefore, emerge as a central name for God, when what the Sophians themselves project in Sophia's name is the antithesis of what the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob teaches? It is no longer the Wisdom of God Who is invoked and served, but another "Divine Wisdom" who entertains very contradictory ideas. Returning to the diocesan Mirror article of December 4, 1998, Sr. Mary Ruth Broz is quoted as saying, "It [Sophia] really enables them [women] to get in touch with the sacred within themselves." Rather than seeking the sacred "Other," the Sophian seeks self.
Sr. Dianne Bergant, in the same article, "warns that Wisdom literature needs to be analyzed in light of the patriarchal culture in which it was written." Sr. Camilla Burns echos this caveat, saying that much of the Wisdom literature (the books of Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiates, Sirach, Solomon, Song of Songs, and some Psalms) is "pretty misogynist." These are the visionaries and evangelists for the goddess, and it is clear how little regard they have for the revealed word of God. Yet these same people are held up by an archdiocesan paper as benign and Catholic "experts".
Catholics have every reason to protest when such terms are thrown about in Catholic settings. As those who are selling Sophia know well, she is not merely a title for traditional theological understanding, but a radical paradigm shift.
James M. BendellAttorney at Law
P.O. Box 587
November 13, 1998
By Facsimile only
His Eminence William Cardinal Keeler
RE: The Movement to Create a Homeschool Ecclesiastical Bureaucracy
Dear Cardinal Keeler;
I am writing this letter on behalf of Roman Catholic Faithful, of which I am a Board Member and Legal Counsel. I am also a homeschooling parent.
It has come to our attention that certain persons and organizations active in the Catholic homeschool movement are seeking some type of "official" affiliation or recognition. At the same time, there is a parallel trend toward the development of diocesan "guidelines" to be followed by homeschooling parents, often with the expressed or implied threat of the denial of the Sacraments to children whose parents fail to "tow the line" with regard to these guidelines or fail to utilize catechetical texts "officially recognized" by the diocese. RCF strenuously opposes both trends, and hereby throws its hat in the ring along with those who will fight against such trends for the sake of their children. Our reasons are as follows:
1. The Track Record of "Officially Recognized" Catechesis During the Past 30 years.
Some things in life are very complicated, while others are more easily solved. When it comes time for me to buy a new or used car, the process is made easy by the fact that various consumer organizations keep meticulous records of the rate of repair and failure of all models of cars. By consulting such charts in consumer magazines, I can easily determine which cars are reliable and which tend to be lemons.
The process of selection should be no less rigorous for the education of our children. Accordingly, in determining whether it is wise for the American hierarchy to become increasingly involved in the minutiae of the parents role as primary educators of their children, I think we have to look at the track record of the hierarchy and its officially sanctioned catechetical bureaucracy for the last 30 years or so. Msgr. William J. Wrenn, in his book Catechisms and Controversies (Ignatius Press, 1991), summarizes this performance:
Our Holy Father has also addressed this controversy in his apostolic exhortation, Catechesi Tridendae, wherein he noted that the present catechetical movement:
In response to such a state of what may be termed ecclesiastical malpractice, increasing numbers of Catholic parents have elected to assert their rights under Canon Law and Natural Law to assume the role of religious educator of their children. This movement has borne great fruit, both in the childrens level of knowledge of the Faith, in the flourishing of vocations from homeschool families, and in the creation of cultures of life within the domestic church that forms the family.
We see no basis for the church bureaucracy1 to resume the helm of the ship of Catholic home education.
2. The Failure of the American Bishops to Implement Ex Corde Ecclesiae.
It has been eight years since the Holy See issued this Apostolic Constitution which was designed to address the crisis brought on by the failure of Catholic colleges and universities to follow the Magisterial teachings of the Church while instructing young adults. After eight years, the American bishops have still failed to implement this critical document. It would therefore appear to be imprudent for the American hierarchy to tackle Catholic home education when it has failed to follow clear and specific direction from the Holy See regarding Catholic higher education.
3. The Disaster of the Pastoral Always Our Children.
As you know, the American bishops were subject to embarrassment when the Vatican had to publicly correct certain errors in this recent pastoral issued by the American bishops. Again, this was an area involving the guidance and education of Catholic youth.
It therefore appears that a pattern has emerged in which the American bishops have repeatedly failed Catholic youth in recent years. It is not the purpose of this letter to speculate on the reasons for this failure. Catholic parents who love their children dont need to speculate - instead, they need to take appropriate action in view of the conditions as they exist, regardless of why they exist.
4. The Authoritarian Tone of Certain Self-Designated Homeschool Experts.
Great diversity exists in the Catholic homeschool movement in the United States. This diversity should be welcomed and cherished. However, as the prospect of ecclesiastical intervention in home education has loomed in recent months, a natural side-effect of this prospect has been the generation of feelings of division and mistrust by some homeschoolers. I would note particularly the strident tone of those speaking on behalf of T.O.R.C.H. and N.A.C.H.E. toward those who question the wisdom of bureaucratizing the Catholic homeschool movement.2 Any type of "official recognition" of one of these groups will necessarily be seen as a victory for one and a defeat for other groups, and will increase feelings of ill-will and combativeness in the Catholic homeschool movement.
5. American Bishops Should Instead Use This Opportunity to Listen and Learn.
Doubtless you have read the statistics demonstrating that a large percentage of Catholic students do not believe in the Real Presence, are unable to recite the Ten Commandments and Seven Sacraments, and simply lack a basic understanding of the Catholic Faith. This phenomenon should be a cause for self-examination and reflection by the bishops, not an occasion for spreading the ignorance around. With all due respect, I humbly suggest that the American bishops, instead of establishing guidelines and directives for homeschoolers, should establish a study program in which the bishops ask for help and advice from Catholic homeschooling parents on how the bishops should change and improve religious education in Catholic schools and CCD programs. Humility is a difficult virtue. However, in the present scenario, it is the bishops who should accept a role as students, and allow homeschool parents to be teachers. Because priests devote themselves to a life of celibacy and thus do not have children of their own, they should be humble enough to know when they should stay away from meddling with the domestic religious instruction of children, especially when their own track record has been so poor in recent years.
I hope you will accept this recommendation in the spirit of charity and concern in which it is written.
In Christ Our King,
1I use the term church bureaucracy because, when such initiatives are undertaken by American bishops, these functions are routinely delegated to chancery aparachiks who often have doubtful commitment to the authentic Catholic Faith.
2T.O.R.C.H. publications have accused other homeschool advocates as engaging in "sheer fantasy", questioned their fidelity to the Church, and suggested that they dont stand with the Church. In doing so, T.O.R.C.H. has promoted itself as some type of American Homeschool Magisterium. It is doubtful that the harm caused by this posture can be undone. .
In the May 17, 1996 issue of the National Catholic Reporter ex-priest Richard Sipe said newly appointed cardinals take a vow to keep secret any confidences that, if revealed, would cause scandal to the Church.
But its an entirely different matter for Cardinals to keep silent about and do nothing to end widely known grave scandals involving bishops or even cardinals which continue to fester into greater scandals because they are not corrected which may shake the faith of devout Catholics unable to comprehend WHY Rome lets such things linger on.
Father John Clarke, Iowa