Why are groups of liberal Catholics splitting from their bishops?

Schism and disobedience, undermining one’s ecclesial identity, are hardly new in the Church.

Still, I have noticed that coverage of these aberrations has increased.

  • There is the renegade community in Brisbane, Australia.  Pretty much heretics as well.
  • In St. Louis there is the wound in unity of St. Stanislas.
  • In Cleveland a group of parishioners from a parish closed by the bishop has revolted and started their own thing.
  • There is a facebook page supporting the priest in Tennessee who issued a video in which he spouted all sorts of nonsense, thus drawing attention of the blogosphere, and therefore his bishop.  People are protesting at the cathedral.

I saw a suggestion that the clerical sexual abuse crisis is responsible for the lack of respect for the authority of bishops.  Therefore, when bishops make certain decisions, people no longer think it necessary to be guided by them.

I wonder if that crisis wasn’t merely an aggravating factor.

Perhaps the real foundation of the problem is decades of liturgical abuse and bad catechesis.  

People have lost, in some parishes, that deeper sense of Catholic identity.   They just barely belong to the same religion.  Therefore, when there is some pushing and shoving, they head to the door in groups.  

In other words, they are just doing what they have been formed to do.

This is a rather pessimistic view, I know.  But it needs some thoughtful discussion.

Thoughts?

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79 Responses to Why are groups of liberal Catholics splitting from their bishops?

  1. torch621 says:

    Proper formation would go a long way.

  2. Formation would help in that regard big time…

  3. jmesch says:

    I heard a good homily recently that basically pointed out that priests cannot expect the laity to be faithful if they (priests) themselves are not faithful and live a live of prayer. In other words, priests should not expect their parishioners to go to Confession, pray the Rosary, etc if they themselves are not doing the same thing.

    Thinking of Fr. Joseph Breen, of course his people are going to protest because he himself protested. St. Edward’s is the way it is because Fr. Joseph Breen led the people that way.

    Like others, I think formation is key. However, I have to wonder about Fr. Joseph Breen because his brother (Fr. Philip Breen) is also a priest in Nashville and nothing like his brother.

  4. Mickey says:

    It’s going to get worse before it gets better…but it will get better. The young priests I meet are very orthodox and traditionally minded. Another 20 years, then…

  5. rssalazar says:

    Catholics have not been led by proper example. When bishops are seen openly dissenting with the Roman pontiff without any repercussions for their actions, it gives license to poorly formed Catholics to behave in a similar manner. This behavior is reinforced by priests, consecrated religious and Catholic politicians who openly dissent with Catholic teaching, while continuing to proclaim themselves as adherents without any appropriate correction from a bishop.

    When fidelity returns to the episcopate, the priesthood and faithful will follow.

  6. My two Cents are, that the “modern” people unlearned to deal with ultimate authorities. They oppose everything that is given and not fruit
    of their own thinking. At least they want to discuss everything and give it “a personal note”. And of course “tempora mutantur et nos mutamur
    in illis” so they can’t accept a magisterium with unchangable core-truths.

    I know some folks, who would like to discuss if 1 plus 1 is really 2, but they hardly hold back with it because the others in the talk
    aren’t as far as they in questioning every “out-dated” definitions and truths.

    The sense that God is not on the same level as they is unbearable for them, so they (over)emphasize “Jesus, our brother”
    Thus the whole self-preparation for the mass is ruined by a wrong attitude. They really celebrate themself instead the
    unbloody repeat of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

    Unfortunately the history of the church in my area is full of disobedience of bishop to the authority of the Pope, so these people
    are encouraged to stay in their attitude.

  7. Kent says:

    Maybe it has something to do with the bishops. They don’t seem to be solidly behind Pope Benedict and his teachings. Never have I heard mention in our diocesan newspaper or any other public venue messages from our bishop concerning Summorum Pontificum, reverence at Mass, or the hard truths of the Catholic faith. His sermons are waterdown commentaries on social justice, loving your neighbor and how good the choir sounds. Revelation 3:16 comes to mind (lukewarm being spewed from the mouth of the Lord). I’ll take a Chaput any day over what we’ve got.

  8. Lurker 59 says:

    Fr. Z.

    I agree with you. I spend a lot of time talking with and reading the writings of peoples of all sorts of backgrounds within the general Christian and quazi-Christian sphere. The priest abuse cases were just permission to ignore the bishops for people who were already ignoring the bishops. Catholicism is often a background cultural noise — it holds people who don’t really have their heads or hearts in the faith in the faith simply by it being something that they have always done, even if in a very minor sort of way. You start chipping away at the universality of that background noise, such as respect for the bishops and having frequent times for confessions, the framework of Catholic identity falls apart for those who were very poorly formed in the faith.

    The hostility towards the Faith and its institutions is something that pre-exists and is just under the surface for a lot of people who are cultural Catholics. They act sort of Catholic but they are quite far from being in close communion with Christ. Problems and scandals are just opportunities for this to bubble to the surface. It is amazing how many people will respond to such scandals with attitudes of disdain rather than shocked concern.

    Formation is a huge problem. All one has to do is look through the parish websites of one’s diocese paying attention to how Christ is described, how Religious education is treated, and what is offered for ongoing faith formation.

    In America a lot of Catholics are are well formed but as seculars, “Protestants”, or out right anti-Catholics. This really isn’t the fruit of Vatican II — the hollowness of the formation of individuals can be seen decades prior. The “reformation” of the Church at Vatican II and its aftermath tore down the buttresses and facades of the Church (sometimes rightly) but in doing so too often revealed the hollow emptiness underneath, and in this hollowness, empty people ran with it and gave us a generation of felt and Fr. Peace and Justice.

  9. Ellen says:

    My brother is in Father Breen’s parish. His attitude is, “poor Father Breen, he’s being persecuted by the holier than thou”. Saint Edward’s really does have a cult of personality there.
    To his credit, Father Breen is a very kind and pastoral man. But his theology!!!!!!

    I just pray for my brother and the other members of Saint Edward’s.

  10. Mary Bruno says:

    Here is a link regarding the situation in Cleveland. http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/08/parishioners_from_closed_catho.html I am praying for Fr Marrone and his parishioners. 325 parishioners of 700 have followed him to their new community. From reading the article I wonder if the people quoted really understand their faith/catechism. It also reminds me of the fact when our new Pastor came he said it was “our Church” not his church. And the situation at hand makes me think of the opposite scenario where a parish is not with the Church, but joins the pastor’s church which has led for the last 20 yrs. Somewhere along the lines I guess he forgot he is a Diocesan Priest…

  11. kab63 says:

    People seem more willing to quit than dig in and work toward an understanding. Blame no-fault divorce, maybe. If something rubs us the wrong way these days we move on. Pastor not to your liking? Find another parish. Liturgy too strict, or too squishy? Find another parish. I’ve done this myself. I would say we’re spoiled by an abundance of riches. When I lived back East in a diocese that faced closures and clustering I was grateful for my local parish that stayed open. No other option was nearby and I felt much more tolerant toward the parish’s idiosyncracies. The First World is a society of immediate gratification. I don’t know if proper formation is enough correction to overcome this impulse. A parish as a family with the pastor as head of household, the Father, is a more complete answer, I believe. We can establish a more stable form of gratification through formation, yes, but also through community bonds. And maybe a little bit of scarcity will make us appreciate more all the blessings we have.

  12. frgregoryj says:

    First, I am sorry that this is happening–even if in only a small way. This has been a problem that has afflicted the Orthodox Church both in the US and worldwide since the introduction of the New Calendar. If you come up with an answer as to why these splits occur, I’d like to know what you discover.

    +FrG

  13. THREEHEARTS says:

    I think there is a problem that runs much deeper and it is a question that is not seen. If you question many of the laity, the real reason is quite apparent and it is money. Catholic schools cost too much. Whose fault is that? New churches are abortions of poor design and cost too much. Older parishes with wise investments are being closed to pay for monstrosities, build on part of their parish boundaries that are to replace them, the older churches that is. All done with the connivance of the local ordinary without any admittance of why these modern trashes are really being built. Money and funds are being thrown around to show that the Bishop is a great builder of the Church. Monetary assets look good on paper and can be used for promotion to Cardinal??? Huge sums of money given away to pay for pedophile habits by the same bishops who encouraged them. Let’s face it the problems in St Louis is really over the bank roll of several millions the local parish had saved. Another run down downtown parish in the mid west closed as it was turned around by the parish priest and was able to pay for college education from his investing the parish funds. It was closed because a local monstrosity could not pay for itself. It was a liberal parish. We have Bishops charging priests with fraud over parish collections while paying hush money on behalf of pedophile priests. It is always money. Read the Last Roman Catholic (by Demers??)and see how the liberals had left a downtown parish and the priest who had used his head turned the Church around. How the Bishop of Ottawa backed down in the face of spurious stupidity and removed the priest. If you are Latin mass aficionados this book will suit you immensely.
    Follow the money trail you will find the answers. I once asked a priest why he was building such a monstrosity as he did not have to pay for it only the poor. “The poor are always willing to pay” I did a land title search on the property under the name of the local ordinary and it ran to 8.5 x 11″ sheets of paper. By the way the local ordinaries borrow the cash from the Papal Nuncio quite often to pay for the amusement of pedophiles and does any of you know. Find out write to the Papal Nuncio and ask for the truth.

  14. diezba says:

    Fr. Z: first of all, thanks for mentioning our situation in Nashville. We desperately need your prayers and those of your readers here in the Diocese of Music City.

    Bishop Choby is a good and holy man, and we are praying for him as he tries to deal with Father Breen’s showboating and the consequences it has had for his parishioners and for the unity of the Catholic Faithful in our diocese.

    Please WDTPRSers, add your prayers to the spiritual bouquet we’re putting together for Bishop Choby: http://tiny.cc/7s9rj (that’s a link to our Facebook group asking for prayers for His Excellency).

  15. JosephMary says:

    Of course there are many things that can be pointed to. But there have been FAR too many examples of disobedience in the episcopate. We can all name some dioceses that have essentially been dechristinaized. They do their own thing. Their leaders allow and participate in liturgical abuses. “Non Serviam!” has been the cry of far too many in the clergy and religious life. Still is” Read the fishwrap ‘catholic’ reporter. “Catholic” universities thumb their nose at being obedient and faithful. The Pope is ctiticized not just by mass media but by many leaders in the church. So many Orders of former nuns are corrupt and still spread their stinking corruption.

    And how many broken hearted souls have left the church. I recently got another note from an older lady who is leaving the church; she cannot endure the nonsense. The parish is Catholic in name only. And she told me of many others doing the same. Some go Greek Orthodox if they believe in the Real Presence. The particular pastor of that lady, once for a short time my pastor before I left, has never given any indication of a belief in the Real Presence. So naturally people who have not had the Truths of the faith preached to them in years feel free to do their own thing. It is the consequence of the disobedience of those whose repsonsibility was to be faithful.

  16. rakesvines says:

    Re: your question of why people leave “in groups” i.e. en masse as opposed to “by individuals?” I guess the problem was not due to individual differences but was more germane that it affected communities. It could be that entire congregations were spiritually immature that they easily got scandalized or were subjected to “group think”. Or there can be an unchallenged silver-tounged pied piper that swayed entire groups. Someone like Keehan with knowledge of Church history, theology etc… can be quite convincing unless refuted with the truth and unmasked for her deception. I guess the ether can be a useful tool as people like yourself can address fallacies, sophistries and deceptions from anywhere. If only people will read up on things and make their own decisions.

  17. maynardus says:

    “Why are groups of liberal Catholics splitting from their bishops?”

    “…they are just doing what they have been formed to do.”

    Yes indeed! But I think that the rest of it is that many of they have become accustomed to doing things “their way” – as they were formed – without serious interference from the bishop. It’s my observation that there has been a general stiffening of episcopal spines since the election of Pope Benedict; not only amongst the new bishops B16 has appointed but also evidenced by numerous instances of heretofore wishy-washy incumbents starting to act like… Catholic bishops! (Even in cases where they’ve required a little “encouragement” from Rome…)

    All of a sudden the theological theoreticians and liturgical pirates being called to account for their heterodoxy and they don’t like it. They surely sense that the worm has turned and that their kind are no longer in the ascendency, so – off they go on their own. The “true believers” may follow them out of solidarity; the sheeple, who’ve been imbibing the strangely-flavored Kool-Aid lo’ these many years, follow out of ignorance. But in both instances it is all about identity.

  18. momravet says:

    Maybe the Church has to periodically go through “troubles” and persecution to winnow out all the errors. Like sifting flour to make a cake (to get all the stuff out that doesn’t belong).

    Always think about the character in “Master and Commander” who has “hold fast” tatooed on his fingers when reading or seeing goofy/wrong/blasphemous things that are directed against the Church, often by those who should know better.

    Really like the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus which is for the reparation for blasphemy and reparation for the profanation of Sunday and the Holy Days of Obligation (also against the enemies of God particularly against communists).

  19. TNCath says:

    Fr. Joe Pat Breen has been a rablerouser for quite some time now. Bishop Choby, a Nashville native, has known him all his life. Tennessee has such few Catholics that everyone in the state is somewhat familiar with most of the parishes and priests as it used to be all one diocese.

    That said, I’m afraid that no amount of disciplining will have that much impact on Fr. Breen or his supporters at St. Edward’s in Nashville, no matter how much he deserves it. The best thing Bishop Choby and any other bishop can do is get him out of there, suspend, and ultimately retire him. The biological solution will take care of the rest.

    Nonetheless, I am sure we are going to see a lot of this come up in the future as the Church undergoes a serious persecution and purification. As others leave, many more will come in. All we can do is stand up for our Faith and pray for the Church and the Pope, the Pope of Christian Unity.

  20. diezba says:

    TNCath: Amen. Also, which diocese are you from? You’re very knowledgeable about DioNash matters, but I seem to recall you’re from DioMemphis?

  21. teomatteo says:

    I think that liberal groups seperate from their bishops because they have a ready ‘support’ group waiting outside for them. The press will usually give them a good write up and the bishop is a natural target. Many groups (but not all) find the intellectual elite siding with them and that is a comfort, I suppose.

  22. TNCath says:

    Diezba: Yes. Alas, we have our troubles, too.

  23. Ellen says:

    I saw Bishop Choby at an ordination for the Fathers of Mercy. I was vastly impressed by him. He doesn’t need such a drama king as Father Breen.

  24. Jason says:

    My humble two cents is that it is all a natural consequence of the post-conciliar foolishness. You protestantize the liturgy, water down and protestantize Catechesis, then it should be no surprise that forty years later the faithful start acting like protestants.

    Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.

  25. mdillon says:

    “The road to Hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lamp posts that light the path.” -John Chrysostom,

  26. Fr Z, you scored a bulls-eye. BAD THEOLOGY + BAD LITURGY = BAD MORALITY That equation I have been trying for years to convince people is operative in the Catholic Church. Nothing exists in a vacuum. While those who are guilty if liturgical abuse very likely have no desire to misbehave morally, nevertheless, when violating the law of prayer (SAY THE BLACK & DO THE RED) is tolerated and condoned, it logically is connected to denial of a Magisterial truth. Liturgical Law is there to guarantee the validity of the sacraments AND to ensure the full and unadulterated truth is properly communicated through the sacred mysteries. The rubrics that exist to ensure a valid Holy Eucharist also uphold the doctrine of the Real Presence. When irreverence is permitted at Mass, then belief in the transcendent begins to evaporate. When theologians dissent from the Magisterium and when liturgists abuse Divine Worship so that the focus moves from God to man (and ultimately to just ‘ME’), then immorality is easier to accept and commit. I do not thing it is mere coincidence that the highest level of clergy sex abuse occurred at the same time Humanae Vitae was being discredited by many so-called theologians and when liturgical abuses were at their zenith. Liturgical and canon law were ignored by some who were supposed to be the ones who should have been setting good example rather than scandal.

    Orthodoxy goes hand and hand with orthopraxy and both lend credence to reverent and authentic worship. Seminaries, colleges and dioceses where bad theology and bad liturgy are tolerated if not proliferated will inevitably spawn bad behavior. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. That is why we must pray, do penance and mortification and urge our bishops to attack all three sources of moral, spiritual and doctrinal disease. If only one or two are addressed and not all three, the patient will never get better, only worse.

  27. TJerome says:

    For many of us who have lived on both sides of the Council, I think we have seen a very distinctive approach to catechesis. Prior to the Council, there was fairly strong catechesis, in terms of the sacraments, Church doctrines, and the like. Now many complained that this approach was rote-like, but we did have a common vocabulary and identity. Following the Council, catechesis, went into free fall, to the point it became almost non-existent. Because it was the 1960s and the era of the Beatles, “Everything Was Love, Love, Love, Love, Love,” that’s pretty much what was taught, with no attempt to tie the concept of love or charity to a Catholic framework. When I would question this rather simplistc approach and suggest, that there needs to be more than that as to why we are Catholics (because after all, Jews love, Protestants love, heck, even atheists love) I was mocked as old-fashioned, etc. Well, that’s my take as to why people feel free to break away, because all they have to do is “love.”

  28. Paulo says:

    (I wrote thre following before I read the post of black.biretta, but I guess they go hand-in-hand)

    I think most of us Catholics of this day and age are poorly catechised. I feel blessed to have attended a Catholic school from kindergarten to high school, and to have received solid grounding on our faith… but sheep do go astray: after high school, and once in college, I spent several years unsuspectingly following the steps of Augustine, that is, those described in “The Confessions”, books 1 through 5. When I started coming back to my senses, the Catholicism I found was a bit different from the one I remembered, but, hey!, I went with the flow. What eventually became apparent was the “one doing one’s own thing” attitude permeating the practice of our faith; even very devout members of my extended family exhibited this laissez-faire approach to Catholicism – so much so that in a period of three generations my extended family had lost most of its adherence to religion! At one point, though, I took upon myself to start, again, studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church; it was then that I realized how some of the behaviour I was picking up was absolutely far from the true teachings of the Church (I guess I have been living Book 6 for a while!), and how removed from its authority I had been! It can be inferred that we have not only a formation problem, but, may be more accurately, a deformation problem: a complete misunderstanding of what the terms “Catholic” and “Apostolic” mean.

  29. skeeton says:

    Thanks, Fr. Z, for continuing to spotlight the issues with Fr. Breen here in the Diocese of Nashville. The entire Mystical Body groans when one of its members engages in self-mutilation. Clearly, it’s not just Fr. Breen’s parishioners who have a stake here. This entire diocese (clergy and laity alike) is buzzing about nothing else these days, right along with the Catholic blogosphere, and all here seem to be waiting with bated breath for the final outcome to be announced – hopefully soon.

    For what it’s worth, I saw Bp. Choby on Assumption Sunday after he celebrated Mass. He looked seriously tired. Of course, the 100F degree weather probably had taken its toll, but the last two weeks cannot have been easy on His Excellency. Fr. Breen has really painted him in a corner, and the bishop sure knows that none of the potential ends to this drama will be without its negative effects. The headlines will either read “Liberal Priest Vindicated” or “Reactionary, Arch-conservative Bishop Cracks Down On Beloved, Elderly Priest On Eve of Retirement”. I wouldn’t want his job right now, that’s for sure.

  30. tobiasmurphy says:

    You know, I think there’s this disagreeable trend to water down the faith in fear of offending someone. That, of course, made people feel entitled to have things whatever way they wanted (when the pastor won’t tell me there’s a right and wrong, everything must be right and acceptable!) When priests and bishops start telling these poorly formed people that there is a right and wrong – choose life, sanctity of marriage, etc., they do what comes naturally: “well, we’ve been trained to appreciate acceptance and tolerance as the greatest virtues; if we’re not being accepted or tolerated, it’s time to go.”

    The thing is, tolerating heresy and otherwise schismatic attitudes isn’t going to keep people in the Church. All it will do is give an appearance of unity, a thin coat of unity paint over a wall of discord and dissent. I think it’s time for pastors everywhere to cut and run. The diplomatic “tolerance” days are over. Those who haven’t left formally are already long gone in spirit. It’s too late to work toward salvaging those souls (of course, some priests need to reach out to them, but most priests won’t be able to bring them back). What needs to be done now is to keep others from following them. Priests and catechists need to teach the truth without any hint of pseudo-tolerance. We need to allow the chaff to fall away. Then, as a smaller but more faithful Church, we will once again gain our appeal to sinners who will see the Church as she is and come home.

    It’s time for the Vine to be pruned.

  31. Random Friar says:

    I will direct the blame at myself and my brother priests (with some bishops). How can we expect anyone to respect the authority of the Church, when we ourselves don’t? Or when we priests simply claim that we are, essentially, “bishops without jurisdiction” and then revolt or do our own thing as it suits us?

    As Ven. Fulton Sheen wrote, IIRC, “The most important thing a father can do for his kids is to love their mother,” so must we spiritual fathers love, as difficult as it is, the Church, and our own spiritual fathers, the bishop and Pope over us.

    Church unity is difficult sometimes. But sometimes we are the ones that are being difficult as well. Church unity, as the early Church demonstrated, is something worth fighting for, even to the point of martyrdom.

  32. Warren says:

    Fr. Z.,

    Some people need very little excuse to behave badly. Nature? Nurture/formation? The problem is not limited to the Church. Are we not suffering still the ill-effects of the anti-authority and anti-establishment 1960s mindset which has catechized many in the way of disobedience? Could we not list additional fallout: a lack of deference to our elders? a lack of deference to teachers, police? A particularly intense example of anarchic behaviour reoccurs with each G8 Summit. Masked hoodlums infiltrate the mass of protestors and provoke them to violence. In the Church, clever clergy hide behind the mask of “the Spirit of Vatican II” and use their charisma to deform the mass and make protestors-protestants of Catholics.

    “Nine rings were gifted to the race of men who, above all else, desire power.” There will always be a tendency for some who, either dissatisfied with their own station in life or deliberately coveting another’s, try to wrest authority from those who have a legitimate right to it. I think most Catholics see through such petulant behaviour and recognize the power-mongers for what they are. Those folk who think they are entitled to power are groups like the wimminpreests.

    “Traitors!… . They believe in nothing! They answer to no one!” There are those who want to take the easy route and seize the opportunity that a scandal presents as a way to justify their unwillingness to remain faithful. Those folk are of the same character as the person who easily excuses his adultery and leaving his marriage by accusing his spouse of ignoring him and claiming that she is responsible for pushing him to seek “comfort” elsewhere. In the Church, ill-formed laity make themselves their own magisterium and try to drive a wedge between Christ and his Church, between Christ’s commands and Church teaching. By denying the authority of the Church they deny the authority of Christ. Their entrenched “non serviam” makes them children of a much lesser god. Can you say “Satan!”?

    Lastly, those who dissent and go renegade may think they have a legitimate reason for doing so. However, what they are doing is simply engaging in scapegoating, i.e., tearing at the flesh of Holy Mother Church. Ironic, isn’t it, that the followers of Christ, the One Who by His own death exposed the evil tendency of the mob to attempt to pacify itself through violence, are the folk who are persecuting Christ in His Body the Church by their dissent, false sense of allegiance and misappropriation of authority.

  33. ghlad says:

    There are some good comments above! I think just about everyone is on board with the idea of formation.

    We fear today to proclaim the terrible inconvenience of Christ as a spotless Victim. We have divorced Jesus being a High Priest from Jesus being a Victim, and have focused exclusively on the social justice aspect of our Faith and our priests, which ultimately fails. Liberation Theology is one example, but there are many. So this great secularization infiltrated upwards into the hierarchy, and is now filtering back down on the Catholic laity.

    The priests are the absolute pinion of either success or failure of Liturgy to bring people to God, just as Jesus was the Son of Man become New Adam who brought people to God. Because our priests are failing, our people are failing. If our priests were strong (strengthened by true devotion to He Who Is Worthy), our Liturgy would be strong, and our people would be strong enough to shrug off the chains of Secularization. Instead, our priests have weakened, have weakened the Liturgy towards convenience, and have weakened the laity, and at a time when the Worldy speak with louder and also more subtle arguments. At no other time in history does it seem that so many billions rely solely on the Abyss of God’s Mercy undeservedly while at the same time offending Him in greater and ever-more clever ways, save perhaps on the first Good Friday when all humanity crucified the Christ with our sin.

    We need iron-willed Priest-Victims who go out to harvest bearing the Bread of Heaven, not silk-skinned priests who worry about nothing other than earthly bread and homilies of tolerance and luv.

    What I’m getting at with all of this is the admixture of:

    1.) the failure of priests interacting with
    2.) the erosion of Different-ness (it’s ineffable!) that the Church has always utilized to align the faithful with God, with
    3.) the success of the secular world, which has always preached selfishness along with
    4.) the new-found democracy of the secular which emphasizes self-realization.

    In this milieu of the above conditions, the Laity are instructed to be selfish instead of selfless, and as soon as difficulties or demands are made of their faith, it’s easier to simply leave and self-realize a tailor-made church. And since the Church mostly feels the same as the not-Church now, there is almost no barrier to Schism.

    So, Father Z., I do believe that it is a Liturgy/Priest issue at root – doesn’t it have to be? Jesus sends out the Apostles and disciples to convert, teach and protect the world, where else can the failure lie?

    (Sorry, I’m reading “Those Mysterious Priests” by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Was there ever another who was as awesome?)

  34. dans0622 says:

    For the laity involved here, the “abuse crisis” might often be the straw that broke the camel’s back but, as the idiom implies, there was a lot of weight on the camel of obedience and communion with the bishop long before the abuse crisis came to light. A lot of the weight is, yes, from poor formation in the faith–opinions like “Jesus did not really establish a Church” or “Jesus founded a Church but it is not the monarchical/hierarchical structure of Rome” are commonplace. Individualism, societal protestantism, popular culture are all additional weight.

    In each of these cases, there is a priest leading the way, right? So, I’d place most of the blame on these clerics, whether it’s this or that priest or the former archbishop Milingo. Are these clerics breaking away because of the abuse issue? I doubt it. That issue, however, gives them cover for now formalizing their schismatic/heretical attitudes, which have been fermenting for years. Catholics have been falling away forever but these stories are more notable since a cleric is leading the way and the schism/heresy is corporate instead of each layperson going his own way.

    Dan

  35. TJerome says:

    ah, the old “teach, preach, and sanctify!” The essential duties of a priest.

  36. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Isn’t all about the misunderstanding of authority? People today don’t ‘get’ the authority of the bishop, its history or how the Church really is how God speaks to us.

    But where oh where would anybody have learned this today?

    Yes, mistakes by clergy can make people leave, but this is because there are other forces of selfishness and misunderstanding already in play.

    Obedience is how we sanctify ourselves, we are lost without it. Ask Eve how that “disobedient” thing worked for her…

  37. ckdexterhaven says:

    Agree with others, formation is part of the problem. Another part of the problem is leadership (or lack of). The US Bishops won’t *Bish*. Whether it’s because a large number of them are more liberal, and they liked the old interpretation of Vatican II… I wonder.

    There have been so many opportunities for real Catholic leadership in the last two years alone. The Notre Dame/Obama event, Nancy Pelosi invoking St. Joseph in order to pass the pro-abortion health care, Nancy Pelosi saying “The Word” is what is behind her beliefs. It’s not that I relish the thought of Bishops reprimanding prominent Catholic politicians, but their lack of leadership on anything is hurting the American church. The people in the pews have to wonder what’s going on?

    There was a bishop (recently deceased) in the Western part of this country who allowed Indian shamans to “bless” the altar while consecration was taking place. This was a bishop!! His ArchBishop was fully aware of this. Maybe some of these bishops don’t even want to be Catholic?

  38. lucy says:

    I would echo the same mostly said here.

    What I find most disturbing from some of my friends is that they dislike the traditional Mass, because they think they’re not participating. The ridiculousness of our past 40 years has molded them to a certain way of thinking. It’s been a slow process that changed them til they didn’t know what they were doing. I have friends who are very devout Catholics in that they would not ever miss Mass, they go to confession, etc., but they find the traditional Mass distasteful. They like all the tomfoolery of the new Mass. It’s not very bad here, like I’ve seen other places, but bad enough that I try to avoid it if possible.

    Catechism is what’s needed. We were told by our pastor that the Baltimore Cat. is outdated and antiquated. That’s what we use for homeschooling our children. But they abhor it. It’s ineffable!

  39. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Loss of Catholic identity. In the archdiocese of Boston, this starts at the top. Look at this typical entry from Cardinal Sean’s weekly blog. It includes a story on a luncheon for priests held by Boston Mayor Menino, a prominent gay rights and abortion rights proponent. It goes on to the Cardinal’s interview with Fox News, in which he supports the Ground Zero Mosque (citing Ireland’s well-known religious tolerance). The blog continues with a story of a meeting for priests. At the meeting two new auxiliary bishops took their oaths of fidelity and made their profession of faith — wearing clothes more fit for a golf course than an oath-taking ceremony. What lukewarm faith on parade. http://www.cardinalseansblog.org/

  40. YadaYada says:

    The only reason or disunity, for people to say “ME, ME, ME” is lack of charity, i.e., hatred.

    I know the Common Doctor said that somewhere, but where?

  41. momoften says:

    I think this is deeper than anyone realizes. If you look at the reasons why there is so much turmoil you can point fingers, but really look at the culture of today. People do not make rational decisions based on truth, rather emotions and feelings. They do not search out truth, for they don’t know how (out of fear for what it means to them). When you look at all these liberals who have run the churches for years since Vatican II and they have twisted the truth, it is really what all are accustomed to, and how their minds have been taught to work. It blows me away hearing someone say, I am Catholic, but—I don’t believe in the Church’s teaching on…… eh hemmmm…you are either in or out, our faith (which has been poorly taught and handed down) is a gift which in some respects we may not entirely understand all but must accept. In time, I really believe some things will change. We are human and imperfect, God help us!

  42. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Massachusetts is right. The Catholic faithful do not see their bishops with a Catholic sense. They’re dressed up for the golf course, schmoozing with the mayor who advocates for gay rights and abortion, and tripping over themselves to ingratiate themselves to Protestants and non-Christians, with an ecumenism that reeks of indifferentism. The people now really are barely holding on to any semblance of Catholicism, or better put, most American Catholics are now Protestants who attend Mass.

    There have always been lay rebellions against the hierarchy, but in those cases they were Catholics who were defending their Catholic heritage, such as when some German Catholics revolted against Irish bishops who wanted a German parish run as if it was an Irish parish.

    But today, what does the typical Catholic see in their bishop? He is a man who will see children molested and cover it up, a man who is the CEO of a corporation and uses the parishes for money shake downs and is pleased with the slick marketing of his pastors who do not rock the boat; he is a man who will prostitute the Faith if it will put him in good with the politicos, always under the motto to “be pastoral first” (does the abortionist doctor want a funeral Mass and burial in the Catholic cemetery? No problem!); the bishop is to many Catholics a business man in robes looking out for his greedy and power controlling self-interests, a man who could not nourish a soul with the old time religion if his life depended on it; a man who parades with church titles, but for whom all this religion stuff seems like a big joke; his homilies and teachings sound photo-copied from some nouveau theology magazine–they put everyone to sleep with technical mumbo jumbo or tired cliches you could hear at a Deepak Chopra self-help seminar.

    The local pastor, albeit liberal, who takes care of people and actually seems to believe in God is a far worthier cause for support, among many Catholics who feel they have no reason to take their bishop or the Church seriously anymore. I think a bishop who immerses himself in teaching and evangelizing people has just as much work to do as the Charles Borromeos did in the days of the Counter Reformation.

  43. LaudemGloriae says:

    My theory is that “being Catholic” for a great many (perhaps even most) is like being Polish, or Italian or any other identity that one is born into, something one IS rather than something one DOES. As such *they feel that their Catholic identity can never be taken away, regardless of what they personally believe regarding Catholic dogma.* This is how we get pro-abortion Catholics and other oxymorons.

    It would seem more logical for people to say that they have left the faith because they support abortion. So why doesn’t this happen? I feel that it is because the Church is exceedingly tolerant and slow to reprimand. By the time the Church gets around to having a “position” the illicit group or practice has become entrenched. Then it takes an even longer time from forming a position to any sort of enforcement, largely toothless due the Church’s exceeding patience and mercy. The situation escalated until a crisis is reached. Then the Church takes action only to be cricized for condemning what is by that time a widely held or supported error, illicit group, etc. Essentially the patience and goodwill of the Church is abused and deliberation is mistaken for consent.

  44. M.D. says:

    I look no further than the opening speech to Second Vatican Council. If one reads it carefully it’s not difficult to discern an overly optimistic and impractical approach to catechesis. It permeated throughout the Council. And is passed on to this day…

  45. Dave N. says:

    I think it’s clear there has been a massive loss of respect for bishops and I think a lot that has to do with mediocre to poor priestly formation over a very long period of time–one of the significant issues of the Reformation/Counter-Reformation, by the way.

    People have come to realize that many bishops (who were of course once priests) really don’t know a heck of a lot about theology, liturgy or scripture. Bishops have often times become bishops largely of their political ties or administrative abilities, not because they are necessarily examples of fidelity to Christ. And now the clergy cover-up scandal challenges even the assumption that some bishops are competent to operate a diocese without running in it into the ground over some extremely misguided (to put it charitably) clerical cronyism.

    Although maybe an imperfect analogy, when I ask a CPA to prepare my taxes, I assume he/she is a professional and knows more about the topic than I do. That’s why I go to them for help. In much the same way I do expect priests and bishops to be more knowledgeable and perhaps even “better” in a sense than an average lay person. They are religious professionals; this is what they do. When I hear people trying to defend the church by saying that Catholic priests are no worse than the general population, I cringe. When I see bishops who have acted scandalously offer their resignations, only to have them rejected, I cringe. Must the bar be set SO low? And I see no broad movement for reform of our seminaries–thus we will be living with this situation for a very long time. Semper reformandi.

  46. Henry Edwards says:

    Fr. Sotelo,

    You may remember Fr. Joseph Wilson, whom I haven’t heard mentioned recently, but who wrote some good liturgical articles for The Wanderer in the early 2000′s. I recall a 2003 article of his published somewhere else, “Not for the Sake of the Kingdom”, that painted a much blacker picture — the scandals were just then breaking — than you, of the surely-not-typical bishop. Just found it archived at

    http://listserv.virtueonline.org/pipermail/virtueonline_listserv.virtueonline.org/2003-February/004763.html

    At the time, it seemed to apply to some bishops one heard of, but — seven years later — I suspect our U.S. episcopal situation is much improved.

  47. The-Monk says:

    Success can’t be explained away with simple “He’s a conservative nut job.” Success comes from teaching what the Church teaches and not shrinking back. I nominate Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln, NE. Forget all of the slick “formation” stuff. Forget all of the anti-Vatican II rants. Forget all of the sad, sorry polemics. Count the number of vocations.

    http://www.dioceseoflincoln.org/brown/Bishop_curriculum.htm

  48. Mitchell NY says:

    I really think this goes back to an era when everything was subject to change. As Priests, often under the direction of their Bishops felt it necessary to disobey the Pope, and Magesterium this attitude trickled down to the people. I mean, if Rome was said to be a faraway place and therefore irrelevant in liturgical affairs, Church disciplines, (think no meat on Fridays) and everyone could do what they wanted, then what would one expect? The abuse crisis, just icing on the cake. This is probably one of those times in Church history that if Bishops are disrespected, disobeyed, and despised in some cases, then many, many of them have earned it. Just like a paycheck.

  49. ray from mn says:

    Somebody said: “The priest abuse cases were just permission to ignore the bishops for people who were already ignoring the bishops.” They now had a good reason other than laziness and rebellion.

    Essentially, the U.S. and most of the world has been in rebellion since about 1960. The baby-boomers came of age at the same times as when they gain freedom from their families with fast food job income and their own cars. Then came in no particular order the Civil Rights Movement, anti-war movements, Free Speech Movement, Equal Rights Amendment and Feminism, Homosexual Rights movement, Drugs, Sex, Rock ‘n Roll, Birth Control, Abortion, pornography, free sex, urban riots, student riots, political riots, The Spirit of Vatican II, promising things that were never adopted, etc.

    Young people were told to do their own thing. And the Church told them to love one another.

    It’s no surprise that people who were never told that they couldn’t do anything might throw a tantrum when later in life that is what is happening.

  50. kallman says:

    Brisbane is a particular problem, a very liberal area in a liberal country. The Brisbane cathedral sanctuary has been wreckovated and excessive quantities (litres +++) of wine are consecrated in huge stainless steel kool aid jugs during mass on Sundays. It has taken a lot of work and pressure from lay people for Fr Kennedy’s group to be evicted from a Parish Church and for him to finally be censured by his superiors. Now he operates down the road from a union building. He does not wear vestments, does not say the black or do the red, has lay preachers, performs baptisms without using the correct words, questions the divinity of Christ, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection as fact and so on and so forth. Great scandal has been given by al of this over a substantial length of time with precious little intervention until recently

  51. jcn0903 says:

    There are some demons that can only be cast out by prayer and fasting

  52. There are two things lacking which enable dissenters, 1) Lack of fear of the Lord, and 2) lack of accountability.
    I retired after 26 years of U. S. Naval service. In the military, people are held accountable for their actions. Minor infractions were dealt with at “Captain’s Mast”. Serious problems were dealt with at a Court Martial. Sailors always knew that they would have to answer if they didn’t measure up to military standards of deportment.
    I deeply admired Pope John Paul II, but I always wondered why he did not discipline dissenting bishops, or remove those who proved to be incompetent. It is my sincere hope that Pope Benedict will be more authoritarian with incompetent prelates.
    More often than not, incompetent bishops are transferred to positions of even greater responsibility. For example, Bishop Cupich was recently transferred from Rapid City, South Dakota (27,042 Catholics) to Spokane, WA., (99,363 Catholics). There was absolute no growth during his 12 year reign. According to the Catholic Almanac, in 1999, there were 37,702 Catholics in the Rapid City Diocese, in 2010 there are 27,042, a loss of more than 10,000. In 1999, he had 226 priests, in 2010 there are 54. Evangelization was non-existent. If Bishop Cupich was in a secular environment, he would have been fired long ago. I can only pray for the Church in Spokane.
    Unfortunately, Bishop Cupich is not the exception; in many cases, this is the rule. 69% of U.S. diocese have either remained stagnant or have declined during the past ten years. Our Church is graying, and people are leaving by the thousands. Most of our bishops are asleep.
    Priests and bishops must be held accountable for their words and deeds. Dissent seems to be the name of the game for many. “Catholic” politicians who cast anti-life votes must not only be denounced, but excommunicated, if they fail to conform to Church standards. The Church exists to evangelize. Bishops who demonstrate incompetence must be remove.
    The Catholic Church is the one true Church. Unfortunately, we have been hiding the light of truth under the bushel basket for far too long.
    Yesterday, I received a telephone call from a woman in Kansas City – Saint Joseph. She was concerned about her priest. Apparently, this priest was told by Bishop Finn, to celebrate Holy Mass according to proper liturgical instructions. The priest informed the congregation that he would conform to the bishops instruction “under protest”, and publically criticized Bishop Finn, thereby undermining the bishop’s authority and creating confusion in the pews.
    I advised her to speak to this priest and if he did not make a public retraction, she report him to Bishop Finn.
    The laity need to speak up when priests or bishops are not living up to proper standards. Canon Law tells us that the laity have, not only the right, but the responsibility to speak up, as long as it is done respectfully. We had that same right and responsibility in the Navy.
    We cannot afford to simply, wait it out until a bishop retires, the price can be far too great. Just look at Los Angeles.

  53. “Why are groups of liberal Catholics splitting from their bishops?”

    “…they are just doing what they have been formed to do.”

    AMEN TO THAT FATHER!

    I have experienced this…

    in the parish…
    in the Catholic school
    even in the seminary

    …where I had and have been to.

    Lex orandi, lex credendi. It all makes sense. We have lost almost everything Catholic when we started reshaping the way we pray.

    “Destroy the Mass”, said Luther, “and you will destroy the whole of Catholicism.”

  54. catholicmidwest says:

    Fr Z.
    You nailed it.

  55. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    •In Cleveland a group of parishioners from a parish closed by the bishop has revolted and started their own thing.

    Which parish are you referring to Father?

    Are you referring to one of the last three ethnic Hungarian parishes? St. Emeric Catholic Church is on the Westside of the River (Cuyahoga), the other two are on the Eastside a few miles.
    Or
    St. Peter’s Parish in Downtown Cleveland (last parish church with in the “downtown” of Cleveland, other than the Cathedral) This is an “inner city parish” that still had many of the grandchildren living in the suburbs coming “home” for Mass and other activities in the parish that their parents and grand-parents grew-up in.

    The parish recognized the Bishop’s right to the real estate, but objects to being “disbanded” as a parish. There is more to all this, and the 48 other parishes have their own stories, like the hundreds (or is it thousands) of shuttered parishes across this country.

    Fr. Z, This is too close to my “home” and to my family’s “church” were mom & dad were married, and where grandma & grandpa, an aunt and my father were buried.

    There is anger, and some mistrust from the “flocks” that had Shepherds “pasture themselves” over feeding the lambs and sheep. Righteous anger and distrust, remember Cleveland has barely recovered from the double the scandals of clerical sexual abuse and major theft of Diocesan funds. (During Hickey, Pilla and Lennon) Less known only because the the sheer size of the scandals in other places, like Boston.

    Many Clevelanders (rightly or wrongly) attribute the Boston Archdiocese’s mass closings of parishes directly to Bishop Lennon.

  56. kelleyb says:

    Victor Claveau,
    Amen

  57. TJerome says:

    Sandra_in_Severn, it all comes down to economics. The folks that are complaining are probably cheapos who didn’t donate enough to keep the doors open. So sad, too bad. They only have themselves to blame.

  58. SpokaneTrad says:

    Victor Claveau said: More often than not, incompetent bishops are transferred to positions of even greater responsibility. For example, Bishop Cupich was recently transferred from Rapid City, South Dakota (27,042 Catholics) to Spokane, WA., (99,363 Catholics). There was absolute no growth during his 12 year reign. According to the Catholic Almanac, in 1999, there were 37,702 Catholics in the Rapid City Diocese, in 2010 there are 27,042, a loss of more than 10,000. In 1999, he had 226 priests, in 2010 there are 54. Evangelization was non-existent. If Bishop Cupich was in a secular environment, he would have been fired long ago. I can only pray for the Church in Spokane.

    Indeed. Please do pray for Spokane. Bishop Cupich is certainly not what I prayed for after 20 years of Bishop Skylstad. I envy my brother who lives in Phoenix, AZ.

  59. chonak says:

    Some dissenting groups and priests have spent years in a sort of internal emigration, doing things their way. As de-facto congregationalists, they may emphasize membership in the congregation, and never appeal for loyalty to the worldwide Church.

    With enough practice, it may become easy to walk out the door and start holding services in some community center.

  60. shadowlands says:

    I used to look on priests as basically personalities, and perhaps did follow the ‘man’ rather than the God he represented.

    It took a change of heart for me to become submissive to Church authority. This change was brought about by Our Lady. She started to show or give ( not sure how to articulate) me, her heart towards priests and bishops and the Pope. And it was a mother’s heart. I had always perceived Mary as a young perfect girl, I was envious of her, if the full truth be known ( and it will, one day). My track record could not live up to the perfect creature I saw whenever I thought of her.
    Then I met her as the suffering mother, and my relationship with her is the most real encounter I have found, with anyone. I always stated that God loved us, but I never truly experienced this until I found my/our mother. This does not take away from Christ, it brings Him closer and also his priests.
    I don’t feel less empowered as a woman because of this submission. The secret I have discovered in my Mother’s heart is like entering another dimension of being, nothing on earth, eg earthly power or recognition could match the sense of affirmation I discovered being with Our Lady. Oh, my defects of character can tempt me when I am tired or angry, but I know it’s a lie. It was an eye opener to my pride, that lies can still attract and fool me, through my own fault!!
    I don’t know much about the liturgy at all, but my behaviour in Mass has changed. I never judge or look at what priests are doing right or wrong, because I don’t know what’s what. But I do sense Our lady and her love of priests during Mass. I sometimes feel I am in another world at Mass. And adoration, which never made much sense, became alive. As I say, I can’t describe any of this very articulately, but that’s why I visit blogs of people who can!!
    So, it was an altered attitude that changed me, and it started in my heart.

    So, the key to obedient parishoners? Pray the rosary, get Our Lady involved, she acts quickly.

  61. jmhj5 says:

    I am from Nashville-I know for a fact Bishop Kimiec from New York (now) silenced this priest in the 1990′s. Some priest have more problems than the role can handle (they have made it a stage). They need not be over generations of our youth destroying respect and love for the Catholic faith. Many problems in this diocese. If they remain obedient to Our Holy Father they will succeed. Until then I offer all of my pain and suffering from my cancer for the conversion of these stray servants. Our Lady and Our Lord will win. Being a pro-lifer since the late 1960′s makes this very difficult to see this diocese in this shape…pray…for conversion

  62. tecumseh says:

    I was visiting a monastery, founded in 1946 and now on the verge of total collapse. These guys have been getting told straight that what they were doing was disastrous. They didn’t listen, and now they are on the very edge…..they are still not listening.

    Their attitude has been that Summorum Pontificum is not for them….that is just a sop to the Traditionalists…..they don’t realise that their Masses and Offices are the very things that are killing the Monastery.

    Monasteries were oasis of culture in the Dark Ages…..even the Communists in Russia didn’t do such a complete job of wiping out culture from Monasteries as the Cistercians of Britain and Ireland have managed these last 45 years.

  63. The problem of groups splitting from the Church, even here in the US, is not just a recent thing: think of the Polish National Catholic Church at the turn of the 20th century, or the Ruthenians in the 1930s. There are many causes, of course, and blame to be shared by both those in schism and by pastors who “drove” them to it. Where are the Bishops who are Pastors? And how can a Bishop be a pastor to 1 or 2 million Catholics? But we continue to have giant dioceses with remote bishops, who end up knowing only a handful of their laity (the chancery staff) and priests (generally the ambitious ones who look for positions of importance). Not a good situation.

    And TJerome, you speak out of ignorance: generally not a good thing. The Latin Mass parish Holy Trinity in Boston was shuttered even though the parish was in the black (because of the Latin Mass attendees who were plenty geneous and ready to do more); in fact, money was illegally syphoned off from HT to support the Chinese parish St. James that shared the same administrator, because it was in the red, even after having all debts forgiven by Cardinal Law in the 2000 Jubilee; but the Chinese parish has the nicer rectory. I’d be willing to bet that HT’s situation was not unique.

  64. TJerome says:

    No Steven Cavanaugh, I don’t speak out of ignorance but it sounds like you might be. I’m part of the Archdiocese of Chicago where dozens of parishes have been closed due to lack of money, period. This story has been repeated across the US. I am familiar with the Latin Mass parish, Holy Trinity, was very sympathetic to them, and was surprised by its closing. But the exception does not prove the rule, lack of money is why parishes are closed.

  65. TJerome

    Lack of money is due to lack of people. [At least lack of people willing to give money.] The purpose of the Church is to evangelize. Evangelization is sharing the Gospel message with those who do not know Jesus and His Church.
    There are approximately 100 million Americans who do not have any religious affiliation. In addition, it has been estimated that there may be as many as 30 million lapsed Catholics.
    Most dioceses, in their mission statement, state that evangelization is a priority, yet few dioceses have offices of evangelization, and even fewer have them staffed.
    Keeping Catholics in the pews requires proper catechesis. Getting people into the pews requires evangelization. [Maybe we need a new dicastery! Pro
    repropaganda!]

    In the 1950s, seminaries required four years of evangelization training and four years studying apologetics. These cources are no longer required and as a result, evangelization is practically non-existent.
    During the last five years of his administration (1998-2002), Bernard Cardinal Law closed 22 parishes and lost 90 priests in the Boston Archdiocese. The Archdiocese with 2,083,899 members received a scant 403 new members into full communion in 2003. This equates to one convert for every 5,171 Catholics or one convert for every four priests. This is the worst evangelization ratio of any diocese in the country.
    On May 25, 2004, the new Boston Archbishop, Most Rev. Seán Patrick O’Malley, OFM Cap. announced the closing of 60 additional churches. While there may be financial justification for the “reconfiguration,” closing parishes will only further alienate the faithful and reduce revenue. I submit that evangelization is the only way that these wonderful houses of life and prayer can remain open, alive, and full. The laity deserves to be given a chance to save their churches. Rather than falling back in defeat, I would suggest that every diocese go on the offensive, and send out priests and laity to win back those who have left and re-evangelize the Church in the U.S.
    Orthodoxy breeds dynamic growth. Millions of Catholics have joined Protestant evangelical and fundamentalist sects, having found insufficient challenge or meaning in Catholic practice. Ironically and sadly, the U.S. is now considered to be a “mission country”. The Catholic Church in America cannot ignore the wanton secularization of America without paying a dreadful price down the line. The day may come when the government will control the Church in America.

  66. TJerome says:

    Actually, not entirely. Many Catholice parishes have enough parishioners but Catholics, in contrast to many Protestant denominations, don’t give nearly as much of their incomes to support their parishes as Protestants do.

  67. Dave N. says:

    I deeply admired Pope John Paul II, but I always wondered why he did not discipline dissenting bishops, or remove those who proved to be incompetent. It is my sincere hope that Pope Benedict will be more authoritarian with incompetent prelates–Victor Claveau

    If only. Considering the rate that the Holy See has been turning down bishop resignations, it seems (at least so far) that we are not going to see improvement in this area any time soon. They even QUIT and you STILL can’t get rid of them!

  68. Gabriel Austin says:

    75 years [less one week] of being and observing things Catholic gives me the thought that the pill was the detonator of the exodus from the Church. Bishops shy away from denouncing the use of the pill [which sterilizes women and makes them sex toys]. Our bishops are too shy to discuss matters sexual. Yet it is matters sexual which has disrupted the Church.
    The changes in liturgy and all the that goes with it are but distractions from the core problem. Parishioners using the pill [or condoms] are engaging in pornography. In one parish, the priest pointed out that there are 3000 families, but only 1000 penitents. Res ipsa loquitur.

  69. Gabriel Austin says:

    Yet another thought. Somehow the notion has gotten implanted that bishops tend to be exemplary persons; and those they are not are the exceptions. This false notion can easily be dispelled with a little reading about the Hundred Years War, or the ecclesiastical situation in France and Italy and Germany at the time.
    The French Revolution has this to be said for it: it swept away all the political bishops with their bishoprics and perks who played Ring-Around-The-Rosie with the political powers. Do we not see the same with our bishops who refuse to speak truth to power? They could well reflect on Ambrose who faced down the emperor.

  70. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Henry Edwards: Above, on 17 Aug. at 5:30pm, you wrote:
    *At the time, it seemed to apply to some bishops one heard of, but—seven years later—I suspect our U.S. episcopal situation is much improved.*

    I totally agree that the last seven years have given us reason to be hopeful. There have been appointments of bishops who are actually teaching the Faith with conviction and promoting discipline. Fr. Z has highlighted some of them. But the systemic problem of bishops who neglect both liturgy and catechesis (and therefore evangelization) still has widespread and lingering effects. The time is ripe for spiritual reform and the return to orthodoxy. Unfortunately, because of the liberal foundations laid, the time is also ripe for laity to break off from their dioceses to form their own parallel churches if they don’t want to accept the “reform of the reform.” As one aging priest said to me, “if the Latin Massers can insist on the Old Missal, then if Benedict makes the liturgy too traditional, I don’t see why I can’t insist on the earlier Missal of Paul VI.” [Indeed! Lefebvrism of the left!]

  71. TJerome
    Catholics will give abundantly when they believe their funds are going to build the Church.

    Dave N
    We have to trust in the Holy Father, I’m certain that he had a very good reason for keeping the two Irish Bishops in office.

    Gabriel Austin
    I heartily concur about the Pill.

    One should never judge a church by its membership, as we are all sinners. You can judge a creed.

  72. TJerome says:

    Victor Claveau, no that is wishful thinking. Even in the pre-Conciliar days Catholics never contributed as generously as protestants. Sorry, but the data is there to support my position.

  73. TJerome says:

    Fr. Sotelo, the aging priest has one little problem, he isn’t the Pope. His response is endemic of the rot found in much of the older clergy. The biological solution cannot come fast enough. Best, Tom

  74. catholicmidwest says:

    TJerome, about your comment: “Actually, not entirely. Many Catholice parishes have enough parishioners but Catholics, in contrast to many Protestant denominations, don’t give nearly as much of their incomes to support their parishes as Protestants do.”

    Having been both Protestant and Catholic, I can assure you that you are correct on this point. Many protestants tithe. However, the whole setup of the local congregation is different. Protestants feel that they personally have a stake in both supporting something they can see, and in managing something that they have direct input to. It’s entirely different from how Catholics think of things. I’m not saying it’s necessarily better, because it has huge downfalls, but it’s different.

  75. catholicmidwest says:

    “… This really isn’t the fruit of Vatican II —the hollowness of the formation of individuals can be seen decades prior. The “reformation” of the Church at Vatican II and its aftermath tore down the buttresses and facades of the Church (sometimes rightly) but in doing so too often revealed the hollow emptiness underneath, and in this hollowness, empty people ran with it and gave us a generation of felt and Fr. Peace and Justice.”

    Not really sure that this is the root truth of the matter, and I can tell you why. When a person has to learn the lingua franca and the elementary details of a belief or thought structure, they at least gain the tools with which to understand and internalize the basics. Now..whether they do or not right away isn’t assured. But it’s always possible for a person equipped with the basic tools after years and years of empty or shallow observance to suddenly “get it.” IT’s not only possible; it does happen. I am a case in point. This is why it’s important to have decent catechesis, which we have lost.

    HOwever, at any given time, no matter what the situation is as far as catechesis, there are always a certain number of people walking around in all kinds of spiritual states, from the depraved to the holy. It’s never been any different; don’t expect it to change either. I think this is what you meant to say. YES, I agree with this point (which is different from the previous one).

    Before VII, CAtholic behavior was very stylized, such that it was possible to follow the directions without understanding, all the while looking very solemn and intentional. Many people believed that the essence of Faith WAS following the directions. Some still do. Some have rebelled and will not follow directions at all. And many people still have very little understanding, even some clergy. It all stems from the same thing.

  76. catholicmidwest says:

    Victor, you said “The purpose of the Church is to evangelize. Evangelization is sharing the Gospel message with those who do not know Jesus and His Church.
    Problem is that there are many, many clergy, including bishops, who don’t think that IS the purpose of the Church, and they are accompanied by much of the laity. Many Catholics believe that the Church is their private property, something they were born having and that no matter what they do cannot be taken from them. Evangelization is the farthest thing from their minds.

    Re: your question of why people leave “in groups” i.e. en masse as opposed to “by individuals?” Both happen and don’t let anyone tell you they don’t. It just depends on the circumstances. It’s two different mechanisms is all.

    Tobias, you said, “The thing is, tolerating heresy and otherwise schismatic attitudes isn’t going to keep people in the Church. All it will do is give an appearance of unity, a thin coat of unity paint over a wall of discord and dissent. I think it’s time for pastors everywhere to cut and run. The diplomatic “tolerance” days are over. Those who haven’t left formally are already long gone in spirit. It’s too late to work toward salvaging those souls (of course, some priests need to reach out to them, but most priests won’t be able to bring them back). What needs to be done now is to keep others from following them. Priests and catechists need to teach the truth without any hint of pseudo-tolerance. We need to allow the chaff to fall away. Then, as a smaller but more faithful Church, we will once again gain our appeal to sinners who will see the Church as she is and come home….It’s time for the Vine to be pruned.
    I agree most heartily. FOR YEARS NOW, PAY NOW OR PAY LATER, but we’ve chosen to pay later. Well we’ve reached a point of no return. If we keep going the way we are, it’s all loss from here on out. We’ve got to pull up and stop the carnage. The people who we’ve already lost, but are still lurking around need to be given the choice and allowed to choose and we have to let them and go on.

  77. TJerome
    I was not making a comparison between Catholics and Protestants, but since you mentioned it,I would be willing to bet that the Catholic Church does more charitable work than all the Protestant denominations put together. For example, how many Protestant hospitals are there?

  78. TJerome says:

    Victor Claveau, you’re changing the subject. In terms of “Catholic” hospitals, I’m not so sure there are many today in the meaningful sense of the term. After all CHA backed ObamaCare. And yes there are many many prominent protestant hospitals, Rush Presbyterian in Chicago, St. Luke’s (Episcopal) in Kansas City, Methodist in Indianapolis, just to name a few.

  79. TJerome
    My point still stands.
    It has been my experience that Catholic parishes, which have good, faithful priests, who teach the faith without reservation have an abundance of funds. Orthodoxy breeds dynamic growth. Donations are down because of the state of the Church.
    I stopped giving to my local parish when the pastor spent $18,000.00 to install electric “candles”. For only $200.0 you can have one of these candles lit for an entire year. For $1.00 you get a three hour light. He did not consult any of the parishioners. I wrote him two letters asking him to return these abominations to the manufacturer, to no avail. My third letter let him know in no uncertain terms that I would send my money elsewhere.
    In contrast, two years ago I moved fom San Secondo d’ Asti prish in Guasti, CA. The pastor, Fr. Louis Marx, receives far, far more than he needs to run the parish and as a result has been quite generous to those in need. He has also sent many tens of thousands of dollars to poorer parishes in the diocese.
    Again, I say, Catholics will give and give generously when they know their money is needed and will be spent wisely.
    I’d be willing to bet that dioceses with strong, faithful bishops don’t have funding problems.