October 29, 2009

Catechism 101: Let's Dialogue!

The Archdiocesan (Minneapolis-St. Paul) Planning Task Force is well underway. Public meetings have ended. However, the Task Force is still accepting input via their website.

So, here, as the process is well underway, come along one of my favorite groups of the confused with their 10th hour suggestions that the process is fundamentally flawed and unfair because it is not addressing concerns of importance to them. You can probably guess what they are but here’s the bulleted list (with my cranky answers):

•Why do young adults abandon faith formation classes immediately after Confirmation? Why are such a large percentage of children offered no faith formation at all or, if the offer is made, why are they not accepting it?

You don’t need to be a faith formation director (feel free to weigh-in if you are) to know that the answer to the first part is: they are not getting any encouragement at home to continue. Also, in my humble opinion, if there is a weakness in our church, it is that we don’t often have outreach to youth after Confirmation. Confirmation in some parishes is treated like a high school graduation. Oh, yep, you’re done; rather than a step in an ongoing life of growth-which really is life even after high school, right? The second part of their question: Huh? Maybe there is no faith formation in their parish (if so, that’s something that should be remedied)? Maybe their parents (again) are discouraging it? I don’t know. I’ve never heard of the second part of their question happening. I want to see the proof. I suspect the second part is an irritation that, perhaps, their, uh, "creative" faith formation programs are, perhaps, being rejected in some parishes. Having lived thru those "radical and questioning" programs (barely), if that's true that they are being rooted out, thanks be to God.

• Why don’t two-thirds of registered Catholics go to Mass?

Good question. I’m curious if they clarify this lack of attendance as: “never” go to Mass, “occasionally” or “once/year” But, regardless of clarification, the question is outside the scope of the Planning Task Force (we’ll get to that later)

• Why are good and capable men not stepping up for ordination as priests?

B to the 1, S to the 10. They are. The seminaries in town are busting. I think this is a gripe that “their” men are not stepping up. Well, when you belittle and discourage the priesthood, what do you expect? In any case, why are they even pretending this lack of men bothers them-see the bullet after the next one.

• Why is celibacy required for the role of priest?

[I told you this was Catechism 101!]It’s a necessary practice for a Latin Rite priest. Celibacy is for more than just priests. The practice is for all of us. Unless you are married (to someone of the OPPOSITE gender), you are to be celibate. There may even be instances where married couples are celibate. I’m celibate. It’s a good practice and that's why it exists. Again, the Planning Task Force is not setup to discuss celibacy.

• Why aren’t women’s vocations to the ordained priesthood recognized and accepted?

Why recognize what can't be? Thus, it follows: why accept what you can't recognize? The Planning Task Force, even if it was set up to discuss this "issue", is in no authority to implement a female “priesthood”. Why would the Task Force discuss this non-"issue"? No. Case closed. In any event, didn’t they just say a little bit ago they were concerned about the lack of men going into the priesthood?

• Why are third and fourth generation American Catholics leaving the church in great numbers?

Third and fourth generation starting when? The Church is 2,000 years old; not 40.

• How is the money collected by the Archdiocese spent? We want the Archbishop to be accountable for his expenditures as the parishes are accountable for theirs.

I seem to recall seeing a financial statement for the Archdiocese that is published every year and is publicly available. It’s as detailed as any parish financial statement I’ve ever seen; both as a parishioner and a parish council member.

I’m pleasantly surprised that Galileo and the clerical sex abuse scandals where not mentioned.

The real kicker is the group goes even further in suggesting that the Task Force ask the Archbishop for the “power” (the dissenters favorite word) to discuss these bulleted issues (which they will be happy to help them facilitate). If the Archbishop refuses to grant the Task Force the ‘power’ to discuss this group's issues, they want the Task Force to throw down their scented hankies and resign in protest!!! Well, ok, no scented hankies and no throwing down, but they do want the Task Force to resign in protest!

If the Task Force agreed to take on this challenge on our behalfs and at the request of the Archbishop, the likelihood of them resigning in protest over a small splinter groups "issues": "issues" they don't share, means they are unlikely to resign over them.

These "issues" will not be discussed as part of the Task Force’s duties-not today, not yesterday, not ever. The Task Force has enough to do under its existing mandate than dealing with these diversions that have nothing whatsoever to do with their mandate and add nothing constructive to the process. I have a hard time believing Frs. Bauer and Laird are sitting around in the Planning Task Force meetings convinced that the answer to all the Archdiocese's challenges are women's "ordination" and a repeal of the practice of clerical celibacy.

Of course, the group also insinuates that the Task Force already knows what its going to do and the solicitations for public feedback and the public meetings are all a sham.

It’s a sad day when someone reaches the point in their life that they have lost all trust; not to mention faith (small ‘f’).

This group will use any opportunity; they will even create their own, to air their gripes. That’s all this is-just their latest.

What irks me is that rather than supporting the process with constructive solutions like; “Hey, we’d happily encourage vocations to try and reverse this alleged dearth of priests” or “We should do something to make sure that these reported youth who are being denied faith formation are getting it” they come up with their usual deconstruction plans and suspicious insinuations.

I’m continually amazed at how they have willfully failed to admit that we are at the point of even needing the Planning Task Force largely because of the fruits of the false “Spirit of Vatican II” that this group continually stands behind. The folks who perpetuated their falsehoods about Vatican II did their work so well in discouraging authentic faith formation, discouraging large families, encouraging “alternative” families, and belittling the priesthood, that their miseducation program is, largely, why we are facing possible parish closures and consolidations in this Archdiocese.

If we want to talk in purely “business” terms and reduce the Archbishop to “CEO” of the Archdiocese; than think about this: How many CEO’s do you know even bother to solicit input from the employees when they are considering saving money by making department, job or budget cuts? CEO’s may have “task forces” too. You may not even know about them until the day you get your pink slip-if even then. I think it's incredibly generous of the Archbishop to be as open in the process as he has been.He's under no obligation to do so. If he wants to sit in his office with a map and thumbtacks and pick parishes to close or consolidate all on his own; than he can do that. He'd be a poor pastoral leader if that was his method. He's not and he isn't.

We may come out of this process smaller in number of parishes but I’m convinced we will be stronger.

The people who wrote the questions are worried that their parishes; those parishes that historically have encouraged this type of “faithful” dissent, are going to be closed or consolidated as a way of rooting them out.

Even if that happens, I know this group will not go away that easily. There is a breakaway community here in town that is realizing that they still need the instititutional church in order to have some thing to fight. No one cares about them down the street at the community center or wherever they are meeting this week. They aren’t getting any press. As Fr. Rutler said: “It’s easier to dissent with the parish copy machines” This breakaway group has started making “under the table” overtures to one of its dissenting partner parishes in town to form an alliance of some sort. Even if the dissenting parishes were closed; their followers will still be around. They’ll disperse to other parishes and they’ll form or join external dissent groups. Some people just can’t live unless they are protesting or fighting some thing.

The recent outreach of the Holy Father to the Anglicans is not good news to this crowd. It is not an occasion of rejoicing that our seperated brethren may come back to the Body. It only means, to them, more conservatives in the Church-fewer allies of their agenda. If the Holy Father had completely lost his mind and extended the invitation to the United Church of Christ, it would be a rare occasion of them supporting the Pope.

As happy as many of us our that our seperated Anglican brethren may come back to the Church; we should be even happier that our seperated brethren WITHIN the Church would come back.


Blogger Adoro said...

OK, brief comment first...who is the "group" you're referring to? Both links go to the Archdiocese and I didn't see the "questions" you're quoting, unless the page isn't loading properly? (quite possible) Some clarification maybe needed.

Reading on... (FYI will take me a bit to respond, I'm doing about 5 things right now and hitting the computer sporadically..)

October 29, 2009 7:43 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...

OK, since I work in a parish, and have been to the meetings oriented for parish employees and heard some of these complaints (or all of them), I can tell you right now that SOME are legitimate, but the problem is that they are NOT the problem of the diocese (as you realize). They are lost on that fact as they think the Church is a business, not a Divine Institution meaning that "go and spread the good news" applies, apparently, ONLY to Management. While they work to handcuff Management, which, by the way, happens to be God. The rest of us are His servants, and the Priests and Bishops exists to equip US to spread the Gospel as we live in the world.

So, the people asking that question need to ask it of themselves.

Why do kids leave after Confirmation? Because, as you say, lack of parental support, refusal to participate in formation events geared for Confirmed teens and young adults, the relativism and outright discouragement and vitriol of society, the anti-Catholic attitude of professed Catholics...name it. It's not the fault of the Bishop, but of the Flock. The part of the Flock that wants to place blame on the Bishops and the hierarchy needs to take their collective heads out of their collective A** and see that there is more to the Church than their own refuse.

On the second part of the first italicized question...I don't know of anyone who hasn't been offered faith formation. It's offered for all, everywhere. If they don't know about it, it means they aren't attending Mass and aren't registered anywhere, so the parish doesn't know about them since their address/phone isn't on file. The people who work in the Church aren't psychic; if they were, they should be exorcised. The Church continues to rely on the "Free Will" principle.

Why are people rejecting the offer being made? Because they DON'T CARE. They are UNCONVERTED and Catholic in claim only (not even name). They don't know why it's important. Or, on the other end, they're teaching their children the Truth and staying far away from all the bad curriculum. And almost ALL of it is bad. The stuff that is FAITHFUL is so expensive for a parish (like the Didichae series for high schoolers) that it's impractical to use outside of a homeschooling situation. I have the books as a resource for my catechists, but it's all I can do, and I paid for them out of pocket!

OK, will comment more in another round....

October 29, 2009 7:54 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...


I'm not getting into every point, and you did just fine. On the celibacy question: Obviously these people can't read, can't hear, can't see, and don't care. Ignore the question. I don't see the seminarians that are bursting the walls of the sem complaining about celibacy. They seem to be heading for it in droves.

Then again, they're listening to GOD and not to paid lobby groups.

On Women's Vocations to the ordained priesthood: Um...that doesn't exist. Period. It's already been answered and isn't a question to be addressed here.

Of course, you should know that the people bringing it up don't understand Ecclesiology and are under the misapprehension that the Church is a Democratic Organization that responds to grassroots movements. They obviously haven't paid attention to what happened to the Arians, the Donatists, the Monophysites, the Manichaeans, the Montanists, the Monothelites..... etc.....

Kudos on the 3rd and 4th gen comment. These people are also very ethno-centric, and I'd guess, of the group, they are made up of 90+_ Caucasions of 2nd to 4th generation Americans, have wrinkles and grey hair, spent a lot of time in the 60's working on plans to destroy the Establishment while baking brownies and rolling joints. They have no cultural roots other than those they have decided to adopt from OTHER cultures, and in that, without actual respect to the official traditions and teachings to THOSE specific cultures and religions.

Does that sound about right?

Money accounted for by the Archdiocese: Wow, this "concern" is so stupid I can't believe they asked it. As I recall, the records are public and the IRS still looks into Church finances for those things that apply, for the Church teaches about rendering under Caesar what is do, and tends to be transparent in financial statements. As I also recall, more lay people are convicted of embezzlement FROM the Church than the hierarchy, and those laypeople don't tend to be real faithful Catholics. Fascinating study that would be. I would suggest the group you mention check prison and court rolls for statistics there. Or would they prefer that those criminals be pardoned for all the oppression they must surely endure by being paid by the Church to embezzle money into their own private accounts?

I guess I can't comment at all on the rest, you've already said it better.

This group isn't interested in the "Common Good" of the Church. They are interested in destroying the Church and making it into THEIR image. I hope they take some time to study what happend to the heretics in the early Church.

Oh, wait...today we call them "dissenters" and "New Agers" and other things.

Don't worry. They are gasping their last. They have no merit, nor do their questions. Of those questions that are valid, they will actually be resolved when the Church, as a whole, is Faithful.

The problem is that the Church has a disease that attacks herself. It is an autoimmune disease that will probably never be eradicated, but can be controlled through prayer, sacrifice, fasting, and recognition that Jesus died for MANY, and that means some will always reject Him.

People with Lupus and other autoimmune diseases live quite well most of the time...but they can be quite the model of the Church today. Why do their cells and antibodies and all that rebel and reject their host? Only God knows.

But the dissenters have more responsibility; they are using their intellect for evil and not for good.

Let them go. Pray for them, don't worry about them. Just keep up with regular treatment and all will be well.

God knows what He's doing, so do our own leaders. Pray for them, sacrifice and fast. It's a spiritual battle...let's GO! BRING IT ON!

and that's all i have to say about that.


October 29, 2009 8:30 PM  
Blogger swissmiss said...

I feel for the Archbishop. I only have two children to deal with :)

Why women's ordination is even a question for a "Planning" task force is a head scratcher. What could they possibly be planning here?

October 29, 2009 8:34 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...

Swissmiss ~ I heard it directly from the mouths of some of these people. They literally believe that the issue of both women's ordination and ending clerical celibacy is a "grassroots" movement that MUST start at this level. They don't understand transcendence or the nature of the Church. They think it's all nature, all physical, all of this world.

Really. It's very warped. It's very much a worldly modernist egocentric view, and they can't see anything OTHER than that position. Really.

It's quite pathetic, actually. Many are otherwise intelligent people.

October 29, 2009 8:56 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

As usual, Cath, you've come up with another great subject for discussion. You should be my managing editor.

Even when I've read those things, and I have, I don't naturally think of responding. I need someone to kick me in the tail and tell me to do something about it.

I think I will deal with those identical issues on Stella.

I went to one of the archdiocesan planning sessions (very poorly attended in a distant suburb). A few things came up, but I came away that the sessions were "pro forma" and most likely the agenda for the Planning Team has been pretty much already set. They were just checking to make sure that there were no surprises.

And I agree with the. . . .

[90 minutes ago an old Army buddy called me and I've been on the phone since then reminiscing about the olden days. I have no idea what I was going to write in that last sentence.]

Maybe when I go to Stella, I'll remember it.

October 29, 2009 10:26 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Thanks Adoro!

Ray: LOL!

Swissy: Yeah, but you have BBRN! :-)

Oh, Adoro, doh! Here's the correct link to the group in question. I corrected it in the blog post! Sorry everyone!

October 30, 2009 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for post. As you are most likely aware, the original letter has been posted on the author's blog. The poor practice of publicizing private letters seems to be a vain attempt for these dissident catholics to legitimize their wild claims.
I don't think I am alone in the observation that the only identity dissent groups such as this one has is an "anti-identity". What I mean by this is that their identity is borne from a rejection of authentic Church teaching. They define themselves only in terms of the opposition to the Catholic Church. They are not advocating a "renewed" Catholic Church- they are advocating a something wholly unlike the Catholic Church.
I believe it is a twisted form of nihilism mixed in with a warped view of authentic Church reform.
I welcome your comments.
Tom S.

October 30, 2009 11:26 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

This is a ruddy good post Cath.

October 30, 2009 12:55 PM  
Blogger belinda said...

Dear Cathy, these are exellent answers. Is it any wonder that converts are confused?
We need more cranky people. "Nice" isn't getting us anywhere.

I would love to know why it is that your NOT a dissident Catholic anymore. What did Jesus do to you?

October 30, 2009 7:51 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Belinda: Stick around! It's a long story-longer than just one post because it was a gradual process. I try to intersperse the stories that were signposts on the journey on the blog.

November 01, 2009 11:09 AM  

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