This is from the Wisconsin State Journal with my emphases and comments:
Sauk City-area priests inspiring some, alienating others
By DOUG ERICKSON firstname.lastname@example.org 608-252-6149 | Posted: Saturday, September 19, 2009 3:45 pm
SAUK CITY — At a recent Mass at St. Aloysius Catholic Church, the Rev. John Blewett urged parishioners to emulate their savior and stand firm on matters of church doctrine.
"Jesus does not back down," he said. [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]
The same could be said for Blewett and his fellow members of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, a religious group based in Spain. Beginning in 2006, Bishop Robert Morlino [of Madison] invited priests from the society to serve in the Madison Catholic Diocese, and in the ensuing years, they have thrilled some and dismayed others with their staunch Catholicism and tough-love approach.
Five of them now lead a five-parish cluster in the Sauk City area, with three more priests from the society expected this fall. They have brought considerable change in the way the parishes approach worship services.
The priests no longer let girls be altar servers, and they have dispensed with the common Catholic practice of using trained lay people to assist with Communion. They have greatly increased opportunities for confession – some complain they nose around too much – and added many Masses celebrated only in Latin, which some parishioners find divine and others alienating. [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]
Supporters say the priests have brought richness to the faith and much-needed discipline to followers who too often water down church teachings.
"They tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear," [That sounds about right.] said Kay Ringelstetter, a St. Aloysius member who calls the changes beautiful. "We see their love for Jesus Christ and the joy in everything they do, and we desire it."
Others are upset over what they consider a hard-line approach that leaves little room for shades of difference. [The ironic thing is that there is plenty of room for many different kinds of difference. But not about the Church’s infallible teachings, her definitive teachings on faith and morals, the regula fidei, etc.]
"You get the impression they only want to be a shepherd for the people who agree with them," said Troy Jacobson, [then… start agreeing?] who left St. Barnabas Parish in Mazomanie last year over his disappointment with the priests. "It’s almost like they’ve restricted access to God."
Critics contend that scores of parishioners have left, but others disagree and say new members have filled any voids. The Rev. Jared Hood, a society priest and the administrator of the five-parish cluster, said membership numbers were not available. [It’s all part of the "sorting" process.]
Morlino said any time parishes change priests, some upheaval is inevitable. He said the priests follow a different course from many in the diocese, but that diversity is good and everything the priests do falls within the accepted practices of the church. [Some people only want diversity if it excludes a faithful and traditional expression of Catholicism.]
"They are not in any sense renegades," he said. [Quite the opposite, except perhaps in the sense that they refuse to run with the swarm of modernist lemmings.]
Societies are a special designation within the Catholic Church. They are groups of lay people, consecrated women and priests who live in common and come together around a specific mission, such as aiding the sick. The mission of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest is to increase the number of boys entering the priesthood. [Whaddya know.]
"If we can manage to get the young people to fall in love with Jesus Christ, then they will not but want to be like him and to share his life and mission," wrote the society’s founder, the Rev. Alfonso Galvez, in a 1994 book on the society’s formation.
Removing girls as altar servers was one of the initial changes the priests made. (The Vatican began allowing female servers in 1994.) Hood said that if the society is to succeed in encouraging more young men to enter the seminary, it must give boys as much time around priests as possible. Girls can distract and intimidate boys, he said.
Carol Schmitt, a member of St. Barnabas Parish in Mazomanie for 15 years and the mother of a female altar server, was among those who took offense. "We sit there and are told that we’re all equal in the eyes of God, and then they do this. I was just insulted." [I guess this is an example of feelings trumping reason and of lack of understanding breeding fear.]
Schmitt said she left the parish and no longer attends a local church. [What a reason to leave the Church and risk your immortal soul…]
Others saw the change not as sexist but as critical to the Catholic Church’s long-term viability.
"I don’t think giving preference to one gender means you’re denigrating the other," said Margie Watson, a St. Aloysius member and the mother of three boys and two girls. She said she has seen boys more drawn to being altar servers now that the role is reserved for them.
Dropping lay people as Communion assistants – called Eucharistic ministers [Well… NO!… but let’s move along…] – also irked some Catholics. The priests have said that having only their hands [only their consecrated hands] handle the wine and wafers, which Catholics believe become the blood and body of Christ when consecrated, brings greater reverence to the practice. Others say the change is an example of a rigidity that erects barriers. [There not "barriers", in the sense they mean, but there are barriers in the sense of distinctions. Clerics are, by definition, set apart.]
"The people are not considered the church, only the priests are," said Sister Mary Francis Heimann of Madison, a Catholic nun who has been critical of Morlino and has been attending Masses by society priests to check them out. She says the Masses lack joy and are "regressive and depressing." [Another profoundly rigid and blinkered comment. What she is saying is that if lay people are doing what priests do, then obviously lay people aren’t good enough on their own. What a horrible and degrading form of clericalism that is.]
But Mary Fabian, a St. Aloysius member, said she’s found greater meaning and joy in the Eucharist. "We consider it kind of an extra gift that we are always able to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist directly from a priest," she said.
Range of responses
Catholicism is not an easy faith, and those who sign on must be Catholic in everything they do, said Laura Breunig, a St. Aloysius member who praises the priests.
"The people who have left need to do a gut check and ask themselves why they are leaving," she said. "Nothing our priests have ever said or done goes against our Catholic teaching." [Right.]
Others say the priests have made them feel boxed out of the religion.
"It’s Catholic with a capital ‘C,’ but it’s not Christianity," said Joan Weiss, a former member of St. Aloysius. "It’s all the rules and rituals and fancy garments, but it’s not ‘take care of your neighbor’ or ‘love one another.’" [She clearly hasn’t been paying attention.]
Dennis Doyle, a Catholic theologian at the University of Dayton in Ohio, describes the society as having "a dynamic spirit." But this spirit comes with risks, he said. Morlino and the society’s priests are willing to fight against cultural trends in the name of purity of doctrine, an approach that is "difficult, at times painful, and pastorally questionable," said Doyle, adding that he hopes the priests "continue to grow and change along with their parishioners." [Why is that "pastorally questionable"? If they are not jerkls… if they attend to their parish priest’s duties, if they act with charity and are smart about the changes and their timing, how could that be "pastorally questionable"? I suspect the one who said this is suggesting that everyone’s approach must be accommodated equally, regardless of how far from the pale it may be.]
Morlino remains a fan. Asked whether other priests in the diocese should emulate the society priests, he said, "It’s not necessarily that every priest must be like them, so I wouldn’t even want to hint at that. Yes, they are exemplary, but many others are, too."
Posted in Local on Saturday, September 19, 2009 3:45 pm Updated: 4:23 pm. Priests, Catholic Church, Robert Morlino, Sauk City, Society Of Jesus Christ The Priest, Madison Catholic Diocese
God bless these men. I would love to visit there something and see what they are doing for myself!
WDTPRS kudos to Bp. Morlino… again.