SHOCK! A Catholic bishop who speaks like – *gulp* – a Catholic bishop!

As you know, not to long ago Bp. Howard Hubbard was retired from his looooong tenure as Bishop of Albany.  He was succeeded by Bp. Edward Scharfenberger.

Recently Bp. Scharfenbeger gave a speech to an interfaith group in Albany.   At least one Protestant didn’t like what he had to say.

From the Times Union of Albany, NY.

Rev. Sam Trumbore
First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany [Unitarian Universalist… what is that, I wonder.]

Bishop Scharfenberger’s after dinner speech last night at the Capital Region Theological Center Fall fundraising dinner seriously missed his audience and likely ruffled a few feathers in the interfaith, largely Protestant audience of about 230 community leaders.

Many of us in attendance were very interested to hear the recent replacement for long serving Bishop Hubbard, to hear what his message to the interfaith community might be. The Capital Region Theological Center is a wonderful ecumenical organization founded by the collaboration of the founding partners: The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Reformed Church of America, Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Church of Christ. […] Their values welcoming and supporting all faith communities seeking peace, justice and a more sustainable planet and a spirit of collaboration, discussion over judgment, and diversity rather than uniformity line up well with the values of my Unitarian Universalist congregation.

[…]

So it surprised me with the new Bishop stood up after dinner and launched into a finely crafted Catholic sermon about the nature of freedom in Catholic theology. He spoke little about the work of CRTC nor much about the community gathered to hear him and gave what sounded like last Sunday’s sermon at the cathedral. There were some surprising references when he began about the common religious history of slavery among ancient peoples suggesting that the Ancient Greeks, Jews, and Christians all took it for granted. As our denomination has been keenly interested in the Catholic Doctrine of Discovery and its use to subjugate Native Americans and enslave Africans, [?] I was curious if the Bishop would talk about this, dare I say apologize for the massive death, destruction and suffering it caused. He did not.  [?!?]

I’m not going to be able to pull apart all the subtleties of his speech for us but he took us to the Garden of Eden to reiterate the Original Sinfulness of humanity and our rebellion against God. The evil in the world is our fault because we do not use our freedom wisely. We pursue power for our separate selves rather than the good and the love of God. Humanity falls into sin by choosing the freedom to get over the freedom to give. Real freedom isn’t the absence of constraints but to choose the constraints that God gives us. Most surprisingly given the liberal theological climate in Albany, he spoke about what was missing today was fear of Hell.

[…]

ROFL!

Fr. Z kudos to Bp. Scharfenberger.  ¡Hagan lío!

Read the rest over there for a good chuckle.

Meanwhile, let true dialogue begin!

 

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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76 Responses to SHOCK! A Catholic bishop who speaks like – *gulp* – a Catholic bishop!

  1. Rev. Trumbore’s recollection of the event reminds me of a story I once was told concerning the Old South where the Klu Klux Klan routinely burned crosses on the front lawns of Catholic homes. Well, a Unitarian Universalist family moved into town and the KKK didn’t know what to do. So, one night they burned a question mark on the family’s front lawn.

  2. mariadevotee says:

    Sounds great. Wish I’d been there to hear it.

  3. Suburbanbanshee says:

    So you can’t mention slavery being bad unless you mention every single time slavery was bad.

    Needless to say, Mr. Reviewer doesn’t mention that most Native American slavery in North America (particularly in New York which was Iroquois country, but also in Algonquian tribes and pretty much every other tribal group), was slavery of other Native Americans, or Native Americans enslaving whites and blacks. A fair number of Catholic converts were basically runaway slaves/war captives forced into marriage, because the Six Nations weren’t particularly nice to people not part of their membership. The Erie were not exterminated by Europeans; they were exterminated by the Iroquois to further their fur trading empire. The Shawnee and many other Ohio tribes were not driven to Georgia and Tennessee and North Carolina by Europeans; they were driven out by the Iroquois.

    So yeah. Let’s mention our proud Christian heritage of standing up to the Native American slavers, oppressors, and internationally profiteering killers of small furbearing animals … oh, wait, that doesn’t fit the approved narrative.

  4. Jordanes says:

    Father, you wondered what a Unitarian Universalist is. From what I know of that religion, I get the sense that many Unitarian Universalists also wonder the same thing. But seriously, the Unitarian Universalists come from a merger of the Unitarians and the Universalists, who are two heretical offshoots of the Congregationalists/Puritans of New England. During the 1700s, many Congregationalists reacted against the Calvinism of their forefathers. Some of them rejected Calvinism’s insistence that only a few have been predestined to be saved, while most of us have been predestined to go to hell. In reaction to Calvinist double predestination, these people insisted that Christ has saved everyone and no one will go to hell — these were the Universalists. It follows, however, that if Jesus has saved everyone, and no one will go to hell regardless of what they believe, there must be no need to profess faith in Jesus or to hold to Christian doctrine. Thus, Universalism soon embraced religious indifferentism and syncretism.

    Other Congregationalists, however, rejected historical Trinitarianism, claiming that God is a single person and that Jesus is not God, only an important religious teacher — these were the Unitarians. In time, as with all liberal let-your-brains-hang-out religions, the Unitarian and Universalist groups shriveled, so they found it convenient to merge, thus creating the Unitarian-Universalists, who, most counterintuitively, even include polytheists and witches (which raises the question of just how “unitarian” they are).

    Having rejecting key Christian dogmas, the Unitarian-Universalists are not Christian at all, and thus, properly speaking, are not Protestant — rather, they’re an offshoot of the Protestants.

  5. Suburbanbanshee says:

    P.S. The Shawnee, Wyandots, Delaware, etc. came back to Ohio when the power of the Six Nations ebbed, just in time to catch all the fun of the frontier wars, the Battle of Tippecanoe, War of 1812, etc. After which some stayed put, got farms, intermarried, etc. and some headed west to Missouri, Oklahoma, etc.

    If you want to read a fair amount of pre-European and early colonial period history of the various tribes, there’s a big reference book/series that I think is called the Encyclopedia of the American Indian, or something similar. It’s really big and was put out by the Smithsonian, and you’ll find it in the reference section in big college libraries. Tons of info from both archaeology and written/oral historical sources. Intertribal warfare and oppression galore! (And some very neat things about trade, art, religions, etc.)

  6. msc says:

    Yes, the Unitarians started off as modern Arians. I’m amused by the clear expectations the Rev. Trumbore had–why did he think these things would be addressed? Did he ask the bishop to If I invite a speaker to my society (I actually help run a lecture series) I expect he’ll speak on topic, but with his perspective and knowledge. If the Rev. Trumbore were invited to speak to a Catholic society and to explain Unitarian Universalism, would he spend much time attacking his own faith and beliefs? What an utterly bizarre response. I would have loved to be there and seen all the gaping mouths….

  7. Allan S. says:

    Thanks Father! I need that :)

    May the good God bless, preserve and keep the good Bishop – and may St. Michael defend him!

  8. Southern Baron says:

    The entire piece could be summarized: “But… but… he didn’t talk about US!”

    Yet it sounds like he did exactly that.

  9. yatzer says:

    I tried to read the piece linked to the Doctrine of Discovery and couldn’t make it. Has anyone heard of this or any lawyers understand what the heck he is talking about? Bizarre.

  10. James Joseph says:

    A few years back I had to do a service call at the ominous worldwide headquarters of the vast and fearsome Unitarian Empire. There was nobody there; that is, except for a college student being paid a few bucks per hour to watch the premises. I should have guessed it. Unitarianism officially takes the summer off every year. In their extensive library of maybe hundred crusty, dusty books I found a title referring to the “troubling Christian obsession with Jesus.” Unitarian headquarters was not very exciting.

  11. Traductora says:

    I’d never heard of the “Doctrine of Discovery” either. Famous Catholic doctrine that it is…in the minds of UUs, I guess.

  12. The Cobbler says:

    Considering the Protestant doctrine toward Native Americans and Africans went something like, “They’re not Puritans, they are predestined to Hell and must be wiped from the face of the Earth to make way for our misinterpretation of the whole City on a Hill passage,” I’m inclined to assume any attribution of post-medieval slavery to alleged Catholic doctrine is little more than the pot trying to come up with any excuse to call the kettle black. (Although, while the Puritans were trying to get rid of the Indians and whatnot, guess who the Catholics were trying to stamp out? The Puritans, of course.)

  13. msc says:

    The Doctrine of Discovery or Discovery Doctrine is a well established term for the Church’s teaching during the fifteenth century that lands discovered by Christian explorers could be claimed by the sponsoring countries so long as the inhabitants were not Christian and the inhabitants enslaved if they did not convert: that is, that non-Christian peoples did not have any inherent rights. A quick look in your favourite search engine will show this. Many aboriginal groups and their supporters (including the usual Catholics) want this doctrine officially repudiated, apologies made, and, often, also reparations. Of course the U.N. has gotten involved: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/E.C.19.2010.13%20EN.pdf . It has continued to be cited in legal arguments making the case that the presumption that aboriginal peoples in the U.S. and Canada did not have title to their land when the Europeans came. Of course I don’t know of any Catholic today that believes in slavery, but some of the more vocal groups make it sound like we do.

  14. OrthodoxChick says:

    I had an American Lit teacher in (Diocesan Catholic) high school who once remarked that Unitarian Universalists are glorified atheists. I have no idea if that’s true or not; nor if she was half-joking/half-serious, but she gave herself a good chuckle over her remark. I can’t even remember how it came up. Might have been while discussing the poem Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant.

  15. CatherineTherese says:

    The link provided by the Rev. Trumbore, UU, presents a document originally published by The Cross-Cultural Shamanism Network. I don’t always look up obscure Catholic Doctrine, but when I do, I ask a Shaman… er… wait a second.

  16. marpoliv says:

    ‘A’ as in AWESOME!
    And should His Excellency feel guilty? This piece shows what ‘ecumenism’ usually ends up being: distortion of Catholic doctrine and humiliation of the Holy Church at the feet of the self-aggrandized individuals who will not stand hearing anything other than what they want.

  17. jhayes says:

    Yatzer, when Columbus returned from his voyage, Pope Alexander VI issued the Bull “Inter Caetera” which gave to Spain (actually Leon & Castile) ownership of any island or mainland which they discovered which was West of a certain line in the Atlantic Ocean, provided it wasn’t already owned in 1493 by another “Christian King” In return, they were to convert the inhabitants to the Catholic faith.

    That, with some subsequent Bulls, is known as the “Doctrine of Discovery”

    In 1994, a group of indigenous peoples asked the Church to revoke those Bulls:

    We call upon the people of conscience in the Roman Catholic hierarchy to persuade Pope John II to formally revoke the Inter Cetera Bull of May 4, 1493, which will restore our fundamental human rights. That Papal document called for our Nations and Peoples to be subjugated so the Christian Empire and its doctrines would be propagated. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. McIntosh 8 Wheat 543 (in 1823) adopted the same principle of subjugation expressed in the Inter Cetera Bull. This Papal Bull has been, and continues to be, devastating to our religions, our cultures, and the survival of our populations.

    http://www.manataka.org/page155.html

  18. Tantum Ergo says:

    Ahhhhh, a breath of fresh air!
    If no one goes to Hell, Jesus sure talked a lot about something that doesn’t matter. Any bishop who doesn’t “offend” now and then isn’t doing his job.

  19. Gail F says:

    Before we returned to the Church we looked into UU because it sounded like being in college… which is exactly what it’s like (at least, the UU church we went to). We went twice. They can believe anything they want to believe but have a vaguely Christian outlook and structure, with sunday School for the kids, etc. The Christian part is from the Unitarians, the “anything else, even atheism” part is from the Universalists. It did not occur to us that this was a contradiction because we were pretty much “spiritual but not religious — it’s all good” ourselves. I don’t remember the first visit but I do remember us talking about how we already had a lot of friends who sat around spouting off about various intellectual and “spiritual” things, and this just seemed like an organized way to do so with all the pluses of a church — set times, organized events, and so on — and we thought there must be something more to religion than that. But we agreed to a second time.

    WELL. The second time there was a guest speaker — a priest (I think — he wore a cassock) from a Unitarian church in Russia. He gave a very impassioned talk about how the Unitarians in Russia were persecuted by Christians for their belief that there was no Trinity and by the government for being religious. The contrast between this man, who really believed something, and his polite but diffident audience was huge. We felt very sorry for him because he was asking for donations from his “brothers and sisters” but we were pretty sure he wasn’t going to get any. We were fuzzy on what the difference between “unitarian” Christians and “Trinitarian” Christians even was, but after that we were convinced that there as a BIG difference between UU and actual religious belief.

    An old college acquaintance is now a UU member, she told me she is a Wiccan and her husband is an atheist, but they get together with others to hear talks, have children’s activities, and do service projects and it’s nice because their whole family can do it together despite their different beliefs. So I guess I was spot on.

  20. Elizabeth D says:

    So someone participating in an interfaith gathering is not supposed to speak from their own religious point of view and explain their beliefs? Is religious indifferentism obligatory? If that were so then no one who believes in the truth of their religion could participate. In this case the UU guy even admits his group is making claims about some alleged Catholic “doctrine” yet he does not want to come to a fuller understanding of actual Catholic beliefs. From the decription it sounds like Bp Scharfenberger participated in a completely appropriate way and it does not sound like he disrespected anyone.

  21. aviva meriam says:

    Wow. Thank you.

    And talk about placing a target on one’s back: adding him to the list of priests and bishops I keep in my prayers.

    Would have enjoyed the unscripted, unfiltered and unedited reactions from the liberals in the audience.

  22. eulogos says:

    Now this cheers me up a bit! Right on, as we used to say in the sixties.
    Susan Peterson

  23. ChesterFrank says:

    Its good to read about the shock of Bp. Edward Scharfenberger. Areas of the northeast are dominated by the Protestants, Quakers, Shakers, and the Unitarian Universalists, not to mention Wiccan’s and assorted nondescript Pagans. I enjoyed reading both your post on the Times Union article and the TU article itself. From that article, I did not see anything wrong with what the bishop said. I cant understand how someone could be insulted by it. I also found the comments to your blog post to be quite interesting. There are also many comments on the Times Union site giving Albany’s reaction to their published piece. They should not be missed, they describe the climate of Albany.

  24. Pnkn says:

    So………. everyone has gone to the Times Union website and posted a comment and everyone has written to the good bishop expressing their support ?

    I hope so.

  25. MacBride says:

    In the words of Cardinal Dolan….”good for him. Bravo!” :)

  26. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    I hope this is not a rabbit hole. The so-called “Discovery Doctrine” is not a Catholic teaching and never has been. It was invented by Chief Justice John Marshall in the case Johnson v. M’Intosh. He proposed that colonial powers had legal title to lands that they has discovered under “international law” supposedly established in the 1400s, to wit, that aboriginal peoples not ruled by a Christian have no true title the land, and so it belongs to the discoverer as a res nullius (property of no one) which becomes the property of the first personal capable of taking title.

    Marshall wrongly claimed the doctrine was created by Pope Nicholas V in his bull Romanus Pontifex (1455). But all Nicholas did was approve occupation of Muslim lands by the king of Portugal on the grounds that since Muslim rulers were in a perpetual state of war against Christians, a Christian king who defeated them could take over their land as a prize of war. It says nothing about whether indigenous peoples have property rights. BUT anti-Catholic mythology, always seeking to blame the Church in particular for bad things Europeans do, keep on propagating the myth that the pope made “imperialism” an official Catholic doctrine. In fact, the truth is just the opposite. Marshall was completely ignorant of the doctrine of St. Thomas and Vittoria (that you don’t have to be Christian to have true title), which reflects the virtually unanimous tradition of Church.

    I had to deal with this problem back in 1992 when I was professor of Religious Studies and History at Univ. of Oregon. A nit-wit kept coming to me wanting help getting a letter directly to the pope so that the pope would change the “Official Catholic teaching” of the “Discovery Doctrine.” I attempted to explain to him that this “doctrine” was not Catholic, but a fiction invented by Marshall, and so no pope was going to change it. This made him upset because he had bought into the idea that the Church invented a right of conquest that make imperial expansion possible. The idea that the imperial powers conquered their colonies because the pope gave them permission is laughable to anyone who thinks about it.

    Obviously the bishop’s UU friend has not bothered to check his facts. No surprise, there, sadly. He is not alone. He could have just looked up “Discovery Doctrine” on Wikipedia; even that mine of misinformation gets this one right.

  27. msc says:

    Augustine Thompson: I am not at all on the side of those blaming the Church for the evils of conquest, but I have to disagree on a couple of points. As far as I understand, while the Portuguese had misled Nicholas V about there being Saracens in the New World, the bull “Romanus Pontifex” said that Alonso V had papal authority to subjugate and enslave not only Saracens but also pagans and unbelievers. That has, of course, been misunderstood over time, but I think the content of the bull is fairly clear. The imperial powers did not conquer because the Pope gave them permission, but papal backing made their claims easier to assert. There is a reason almost all combatants in Europe up to the Reformation tried to get papal backing for their cause–England against France, France against Spain, Naples against Spain, etc. etc. etc. People didn’t go to war because of the Pope’s backing, but it helped in making claims about right and justice. But back to the conquest of the new world: this idea that non-Christian peoples didn’t have rights was hardly an attitude that some members of the Church alone held: it would have been shared by most Europeans (including my ancestors). However, many later Popes clearly condemned slavery.

  28. CatherineTherese says:

    Augustine Thompson,
    Your O.P. gives you away as a man of truth and facts. You presume it was a “stumble” (to borrow his own language) on the part of the Rev. UU in question to have failed to check his facts. He does not believe in Truth.

    You’re right, it’s no surprise – why should facts get in the way of mush and mutual self-congratulatory navel gazing of an interfaith post-dinner speech? But – then again – Rev. UU is not really the enemy, at least not urgently so these days. His type have wrecked havoc on generations of minds and on the social order of our culture. But the real enemy is at the gates, and they *do* believe in Truth.

    I commend the good bishop for his “just be yourself” approach to this silly soiree invitation. It’s another (maybe not so little) nod in the direction of the suffering faithful (long suffering, in the case of Albany) who – as they look out across a darkening horizon – are longing desperately to be led by their shepherds.

  29. Juergensen says:

    And he was appointed by Pope Francis!

  30. Legisperitus says:

    Augustine Thompson, O.P.: Thank you for your clarification.

    Most English-speaking people probably are also unaware that it was Catholic writers (specifically Spanish ones), working to protect of the native peoples in the New World against depredation, who developed the ideas of natural human rights that laid the foundation for the first modern theories of international law.

  31. Legisperitus says:

    Sorry, I ended up with an extra “of” in there somehow…

  32. Mario Bird says:

    I am shocked, shocked to find a US Supreme Court Justice inventing doctrine!

  33. GreggW says:

    That is my bishop. I have not yet read his speech to the group, but would like to.

    He is compassionate, intelligent, faithful. And adamantly pro life. I think we are blessed to have him as our bishop.

  34. iamlucky13 says:

    One way ecumenism. I can’t say I’m surprised.

    Let’s just cut out the filler material and look at the central elements of his letter.

    Intro – it’s great to have a respectful interfaith dialog:
    “The Capital Region Theological Center is a wonderful ecumenical organization…Their values welcoming and supporting all faith communities “

    Therefore – this seems like a good time to bring up the biases my church holds for your church, despite the fact that they’re based on a misinterpretation of your beliefs*:
    “As our denomination has been keenly interested in the Catholic Doctrine* of Discovery and its use to subjugate Native Americans and enslave Africans, [?] I was curious if the Bishop would talk about this, dare I say apologize for the massive death, destruction and suffering it caused.”

    * If you search for that term, the evidence offered is usually the papal bull “Inter Caetera.” A papal bull is not doctrine. It can address doctrine. It can also address regular business. The title “doctrine” was applied to the principle by secular lawyers in secular courts.

    More importantly, treating the Doctrine of Discovery as a Catholic instruction for “death, destruction, and suffering” in the New World is flawed for multiple reasons. First of all, it wasn’t strictly Catholic. The basic form of was the same all the other colonial nations followed – we found it, therefore we get to keep it. In fact, even the United States Supreme Court held the doctrine of discovery as legal precedence, and certainly not based on any legal authority it recognized from the Church.

    Furthermore, nowhere in the bull is any such authorization for death, destruction, or suffering. The general tone is very much the opposite. It does not assume any aboriginal rights, and from a secular standpoint it is condescending, but the intent was the betterment of the natives.

    “The Doctrine of Discovery or Discovery Doctrine is a well established term for the Church’s teaching during the fifteenth century that lands discovered by Christian explorers could be claimed by the sponsoring countries so long as the inhabitants were not Christian and the inhabitants enslaved if they did not convert:”

    That’s not entirely true, because the Doctrine of Discovery is much broader than that, was not a teaching but a legal decree, and as I mention above, was adopted pretty much universally in various forms outside the Church. I don’t know where the enslavement bit came from, but the sub-human view of non-European people was definitely one that pervaded far beyond the Catholic Church.

  35. Tom Piatak says:

    Someone should buy Bishop Scharfenberger a ticket to Rome. We could use some Catholic bishops who sound like Catholic bishops at the Synod.

  36. Gerard Plourde says:

    I guess Bishop Scharfenberger’s mistake was that he thought that an ecumenical organization called “Capital Region Theological Center” would be interested in learning about the theology that a denomination professes.

  37. disco says:

    Sounds like the poor UU thought that every catholic bishop should be happy to watch the catholic faith wilt and die like bishop Hubbard was.

  38. The Masked Chicken says:

    The Doctrine of Discovery seems to have a long and somewhat complicated history. As this is not my area of historical expertise, I can only comment on what my brief investigation has uncovered, so far:

    There is a long paper trail of papal documents that give permission for Christian (Catholic) countries to capture and enslave pagans and anti-Christians, but these are all time-bound documents and have been subject to modifications due to time and circumstances, so much so, that the final product after hundreds of years is nothing like a Doctrine of Discovery.

    The alleged trails starts with the bulls permitting the Crusades, which are seen as the prototypical situation in which discovery might be permitted – capturing and enslaving the Moslems who were encountered. The actual paper trial follows the following documents:

    Pope Nicholas V

    Dum Diversas (1452) which concerned Portugal’s rights in southern Africa. It authorized the capture and perpetual enslavement of the Saracens and pagans in southern Africa.

    Romanus Pontifex (1455) re-confirmed Portugal’s rights, specifically, south of Cape Bojador in Africa and restricted interference from other countries, essentially, giving Portugal a guarded monopoly.

    Pope Calixtus III

    Inter Caetera (1456) re-iterated the rights under Dum Diversas

    Dum Diversas was renewed, again by Pope Sixtus IV (1481, Aeterni regis? ) and Pope Leo X (1514) in Precelse denotionis

    This type of power grant to a specific country was extended to the Americas by Pope Alexander VI in Inter caetera (1493), which was part of the so-called Bulls of Donation by Alexander IV:

    Inter caetera of 4 May 1493
    Eximiae devotionis of 3 May 1493
    Dudum siquidem of 26 September 1493

    As time went on, however, these grants were, gradually modified. Pope Paul III condemned the unjust slavery of non-Christians in Sublimus Dei (1537), but permitted the buying of Moslems slaves in 1548. About 100 years later (1686) the Vatican limited the original bull even further by not only condemning the unjust slavery of non-Christians in Africa and elsewhere, but by decreeing that Africans enslaved during unjust wars should be freed.

    Thus, there is very little support for a true Doctrine of Discovery within Catholic tradition except for a very limited historical window under the influence of the remnants of religious wars and a burgeoning monopolistic mentality of Renaissance European imperialism. Once these eras passed and the true theological significance and implications of the Discovery bulls began to be better understood, they were, eventually, modified out of existence.

    Certainly, by the time Marshall would have been able to cite the bull (early 1800’s), its underlying assumptions would have evaporated although its patina might have colored the judicial views of properties even to that time. Certainly, this document has had little lasting effects, per se, on the Church’s property relationships in the Americas, although Trumbore would have one believe it so, because even as the Spanish encomienda system was being put into place in the Americas in the mid-1500’s, which regulated the North American Natives and used them as labor, the Dominican, Antonio de Montesinos (d. 1545) was denouncing the system. This, eventually, lead to the Laws of Burgos, which greatly protected the indigenous people. Thus, Trumbore should thank the Church, rather than condemn it.

    Obviously, this is a very complicated subject and there were many errors made, but Trumbore is taking a very limited view of the Church’s role during this period.

    Others, better read than, I can correct or extend this comment.

    The Chicken

  39. ASD says:

    a finely crafted Catholic sermon about the nature of freedom in Catholic theology

    I heard what I guess was the same excellent presentation at a Red Mass for legal professionals Oct. 6. That is, when Bp. Sharfenberger had an opportunity to speak to judges & lawyers, he spoke about freedom.

    A few highlights:

    (1) Dignitatis Humanae; (2) St. Edith Stein: Who seeks truth seeks God; (3) Abuse of freedom: Adam hid himself; Tower of Bable; (4) B16 @ Regensburg: cited as an example of brilliant and profound discourse about God & freedom; (5) What does the Church add to Enlightenment discourse on freedom? In order to understand freedom, we have to understand human nature. CCC #1: Know Him & love Him. (6) Real love => real freedom => real responsibility => real consequences => real Hell.

  40. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    Dear msc,

    The short version of what you claim (Europeans thought non-Christians had no rights), may be true of kings (I have not taken a poll), but in theological circles this was a minority opinon held only by Franciscans. The majority opinion, that of St. Thomas even in the late middle ages was that non-Christians had rights (including that to property) under the ius gentium.

    Read out of the context, the bull Pontificus Romanus (and, more commonly, Inter Cetera) can be taken as validating conquest and enslavement of non-Christian populations. And so they are constantly read–esp. by anti-Catholics. They have to be read within the context of what was happening when they were issued. Of course, kings sought to have papal approval for their wars, but that is a separate question: in medieval canon law a war was considered just (not sinful) if it fit Augustine’s three requirements (legitimate authority wages it, it is defended those people being attacked, and is proportional to the evil it corrects), AND (or?–so a minority of modern scholars thinks) “if the pope approves it.” This last strictly speaking meant only that the pope has the right to declare who has the previous three requirements on his side. Historians who have no knowledge of canon law have declared that this means popes can approve any war they like. That is false, even in the case of the Crusades, papal approval was based on the argument that the Muslims invaded and took Christian lands (objectively true) and that they were oppressing their Christian subjects (also true). See the massive work of Jonathan Riley-Smith and James Powell on how the Crusades were justified.

    The central fact is that within the Catholic moral tradition, neither Pontifex Romanus nor Inter Cetera were ever read as giving a “right of conquest” or “Discovery Doctrine.” I have no interest in defending enslavement of defeated populations. Nicholas V was here repeating the classical Greco-Roman principle that those defeated in war could be enslaved as the milder course than killing them all. In practice this issue was meaningless in the middle ages because Christians could not be enslaved merely because they lost a war. In the blessed Renaissance, people revived classical ideas (incl. enslavement of defeated enemies–at least those not Christian). Nicholas seems to be working from this paradigm. After reconsideration, Pope Paul III, in 1537, denied the right of conquerors to enslave pagans who were conquered if they did not convert (a Franciscan position). in the bull “Sublimus Dei.” Since he was speaking authoritatively on that issue (which Nicholas treated only in passing), this dispelled any doubt as to what Romnus Pontifex and Inter Ceteras meant as to the status of non-Christian subjects of Christians kings in the colonies.

    I admit that, if read out of context, papal bulls present an unclear voice on imperialism. But, if read in context, and in chronological order, the Church’s position on the indigenous peoples and their rights is clear: just read Vittoria, Soto, Lessius, and the second scholastic theologians. Then read Paul III. There is nothing like this in English (or French) jurisprudence. The only voice for the rights of the indigenous peoples in 15th century Europe came from SPAIN! The Spanish colonialists ignored it, but to blame the Church for colonial exploitation is simply silly. And I don’t suggest that you do that!

  41. Rich says:

    “Prophesy not to us what is right; speak to us smooth things.” (Isaiah 30:10)

  42. Alba says:

    Rev Trumbore says, “Their values welcoming and supporting all faith communities seeking peace, justice and a more sustainable planet and a spirit of collaboration, discussion over judgment, and diversity rather than uniformity line up well with the values of my Unitarian Universalist congregation.”
    I suppose that the Rev Trumbore just needs to learn what ‘diversity’ actually means.

  43. jflare says:

    I also read Rev Trumbore’s link about Doctrine of Discovery and…while I dispute whether the pope ever actually authorized bloodshed, torture, and enslavement, on the whole, I find I don’t disagree with the idea of that Doctrine. Honestly, I’m having a tough time understanding why I should dismiss it.

    Look, the basic idea seems to be that a nation would claim a new territory for itself and would pledge to work to convert the native peoples to Christian faith. I’m VERY hard pressed to explain why that’s a bad thing, really. If a man is living a pagan life, aren’t we actually required to catechize him in revealed Truth? I think Christ did, in fact, tell us to go and baptize all nations.

    As to the allegation about imposing a colonizing nation’s social structures, well, I’m hard pressed to explain how that can be done differently. If the society you encounter bases the routine expectations of life on a pagan ideal, the only way to really uproot the typical expectation of pagan belief is to..impose the society you come from yourself.

    I’m sure this will enrage many a “native” advocate, but I don’t believe in honoring the various gods of the various tribal peoples. I don’t believe in celebrating their culture. Not for any length of time anyway. I can’t live out my vocation as a lay man and a Catholic if I never provoke them with my knowledge of revealed Truth.
    I simply cannot reconcile a native tribe’s beliefs with my belief in One, True, Trinitarian God. I must make a decision about which belief I will embrace and act accordingly.

    I’m saddened to see that native peoples and Rev Trumbore are so aggravated that a Catholic bishop would dare to remind them of what Truth really reveals, but I can’t think of anything else that a Catholic bishop would do.
    He did precisely what his vocation requires.

  44. benedetta says:

    ASD, thank you for sharing that, how excellent!

  45. mpmaron says:

    I am also from the Albany diocese. The last 35 years or so were rough. Yesterday, when a priest “no-showed” Mass and the laity started a communion service and I started for the door, I was very disheartened. I prayed that FSSP or some group would come into the diocese.

    Our new bishop has had a Rosary March for Life. He said the Rosary with the diocese at the cathedral, Now, he’s preaching to the liberals. These things are new to me. I like them.

    Take it from this idiot. Don’t despair people. Things are changing.

  46. greasemonkey says:

    It’s a real shame that the Albany establishment (from within and without) continues to try to cast ES+ in the image and likeness of HJH+!
    Big deal! ES+ chose to speak like a follower of Christ rather than re-pitch the same Ol’ hard left fodder. I feel like the solid faithful of Albany just got a booster shot!
    Prayers and support for the Bishop, my bishop!
    Don’t forget to send some encourage my his way! Even on the TU blog page!

  47. CatherineTherese says:

    Dear mpmaron (and ASD, GreggW et al),

    In case you were not already aware, there will be two concurrent Public Square Rosary Rallies in the Diocese of Albany this coming Saturday at 12 Noon. https://americaneedsfatima.org/Public-Square-Rosary-Downloads/why-public-square-rosary-rallies.html

    One in Troy at Sacred Heart Church, the other in Schenectady outside Planned Parenthood.

    ASD, I thank you for the rousing highlights of Bp. Scharfenberger’s Red Mass homily. It sounds fantastic. Meanwhile, there’s even hope to be found reading many of the Times Union blog comments – not just from Catholics – which take the original blogger to task for his silliness. As you say, don’t despair! Brick by brick.

  48. LarryW2LJ says:

    “Most surprisingly given the liberal theological climate in Albany, he spoke about what was missing today was fear of Hell.”

    Oh my, really? There IS a Hell? (Sarcasm off)

    From the tone of Rev. Trumbore’s article you can tell that the good Bishop was telling everyone at this conference everything they didn’t want to hear. And the reason they didn’t want to hear it, is because way, way, way deep down inside they know Bishop Scharfenberger’s words are true. That’s why there’s such a negative reaction to them. They strike a resonant chord, and it is not welcome with those who are trying to create God in their own image.

  49. mpmaron says:

    Thanks Catherine.

  50. Peter in Canberra says:

    Good for him. His crozier looks like it is a heavy duty tradesman model, not a DIY use only 6 times a year one.

    However I can’t look at the vestment he is wearing without having images of Stargate SG-1 come to mind … >:-o

  51. Mike says:

    May God richly reward Bishop Scharfenberger, and may his faithful witness be emulated by all prelates who are tempted (or, God help us, have succumbed to the temptation) to undermine the Body of Christ through compromise with the Enemy.

  52. DisturbedMary says:

    Our merciful Lord has come to the rescue of Albany. I trust Bishop Scharfenberger shook the dust from his feet as he left.

  53. cpttom says:

    Father Z, You’ve been found out! From the comment’s section of the article:

    Jennifer O’Connell says:
    October 8, 2014 at 8:47 am

    It’s more like a angry hornet pursued you, Rev Trumbore. You’ve been given attention by ultra-extremist priest John Zuhlsdorf. See http://wdtprs.com/blog/2014/10/shock-a-catholic-bishop-who-speaks-like-gulp-a-catholic-bishop/.

    Oh My!

    [Ultra-extremist? HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! o{]:¬) ]

  54. Adam Welp says:

    I dare say we may have another contender for the Episcopal Spine award!

  55. CrimsonCatholic says:

    He posted a new blog, praising Sister Simone Campbell.

  56. JCF says:

    I’ve lived in the Albany diocese all my life (43 years), and I will just say “so far so good” for our new Bishop.

  57. benedetta says:

    From his screed, it appears that Sam Trumbore saved his choicest mockery for the Christian doctrine of Hell. Apparently, he for one does not believe in it and thinks it worthy of public scorn. Further, he appears to think that others who do believe are similarly ripe targets for humiliation.

    Fair enough. Those are his choices. But to even question the notion of religious liberty when jihadism is persecuting, threatens, and is exterminating, by way of genocide, in multiple locations across the world, really displays a woeful ignorance and a lack of compassion for the most serious issues of our day threatening Christians. For when one suffers, all suffer. In one fell swoop my ridiculing the need for religious freedom, he has demonstrated that at least for him and his church an intent to hide from the times and live an existence out of touch and entitled over one’s fellows.

    If Mr. Trumbore has decided for all time that Hell does not exist, he is entitled, however, by what authority would he like the rest of us, his readers, to be persuaded to support the partisan political candidates of his choosing (for this and not social justice or spirituality seems the entire obsession of his blog, and for the candidates of apparently just the one party only, always), while oppressing those who speak for the sanctity of human life, the right from which all freedoms and rights then follow?

  58. JCF says:

    Mr. Trumbore keeps digging his hole deeper. Referencing Sr. Simone Campbell is not helping his argument.

    http://blog.timesunion.com/trumbore/defenders-of-new-bishop-trip-up-critic/1291/

  59. aviva meriam says:

    who posted a new blog praising Sister Simone Campbell?

  60. benedetta says:

    In his follow up which mpmaron has posted for us above, Sam Trumbore states “The goal of oratory is persuasion.”

    He appears to completely be unaware of what Catholic preaching is all about. We should therefore pray for him in what appears to be a great spiritual poverty.

    Iesus autem intuitus eum dilexit eum

  61. Pnkn says:

    Dear jflare –

    I’m not seeing how parts of your post are compatible with Catholicism.
    Specifically:

    “Look, the basic idea seems to be that a nation would claim a new territory for itself and would pledge to work to convert the native peoples to Christian faith. I’m VERY hard pressed to explain why that’s a bad thing, really. If a man is living a pagan life, aren’t we actually required to catechize him in revealed Truth? I think Christ did, in fact, tell us to go and baptize all nations.”
    ***When is claiming >new< territories part of evangelization ? Where is it taught that we are required to catechize as opposed to offering catechesis ? Isn't what Jesus actually told the disciples "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." ?

    "As to the allegation about imposing a colonizing nation’s social structures, well, I’m hard pressed to explain how that can be done differently. If the society you encounter bases the routine expectations of life on a pagan ideal, the only way to really uproot the typical expectation of pagan belief is to..impose the society you come from yourself."
    ***What part of Catholicism supports colonization of other people ? What part of Catholicism involves imposing anything upon others ? Once again, where is respect for the right of others to believe differently from you ? The social structures of a society will be changed by the members of that society as their understanding and knowledge of Christianity grows. God does not impose Himself upon us, what then is the justification for us imposing God upon others ?

    "I’m sure this will enrage many a “native” advocate, but I don’t believe in honoring the various gods of the various tribal peoples. I don’t believe in celebrating their culture. Not for any length of time anyway. I can’t live out my vocation as a lay man and a Catholic if I never provoke them with my knowledge of revealed Truth.
    I simply cannot reconcile a native tribe’s beliefs with my belief in One, True, Trinitarian God. I must make a decision about which belief I will embrace and act accordingly."
    ***I'm not a "native advocate", I'm a Catholic who believes the teachings of Jesus and the Church. I certainly do not honor pagan beliefs. I have decided for myself what beliefs I hold and I am obligated by faith to extend that respect and courtesy to others. I do, however, respect the right of others to hold those beliefs. I am free to choose to celebrate or not celebrate aspects of another person's culture; I am not free as a Christian to destroy other cultures or impose mine upon others. I do have an obligation to present the truth of Christianity in such a way that convinces others of this truth and they then choose to become disciples of Jesus. I very much doubt that "provoking" someone is an effective way to show respect for them as an equally beloved creature of God. If someone is seeking to understand the Mystery of our existence, then they are seekers of truth – that is a Catholic belief that this person is already responding to God's call to them. My job as a Christian is to offer them further and alternative ways to aid them in their search for truth. It would do me well to understand their beliefs in order that I might understand how they think about and perceive the world around them so that I might better offer them a way to understand the truth.

    I'm just not aware of how Catholicism is about conquering nations, imposing social structures, and requiring others to listen to my presentation of what I hold as truth.

    Sincerely,
    Pnkn

  62. Patti Day says:

    The majority of the 78 comments on Rev. Trumbore’s page applauded the Bishop for standing up and speaking truth. One unintended but happy consequence of the reverend’s article is that Bishop Scharfenberger’s words will be more widely read (and appreciated). You were mentioned favorably as well, Father Z. [What those people can’t know is that I have deleted comments from this combox that we insulting ad hominems.]

  63. Ed the Roman says:

    Insulting towards you, towards His Excellency, or Rev. Trumbore?

  64. jflare says:

    Ed,
    Quite possibly all three, and to others as well.

    Pnkn,
    Your basic argument appears to be that it’s not OK to colonize or to insist that certain social structures be imposed upon another group of people; also, we must respect others’ cultural identities.

    Trouble is, most who complain about colonization and imposition of values are guilty themselves of colonizing and imposing values, though not in precisely the same way. If you want to argue that it was wrong for Spain or Britain to claim territory for themselves, I must ask: What do you think the various secular, atheistic, or progressive movements are doing today? If a secularist insists that schoolchildren many not recite the Pledge of Allegiance because it contains the word “God”, does that not “claim” the territory of a school for a secular intent? If people wish to insist that we may not pray or erect crosses on public property, does not that act inherently “claim” the public square for secularism?
    …And don’t they do it for essentially the same reason, because they want to gain economically and/or culturally from it? If they can force Christians and others to omit God or holy ideas from the public square, can they not also cause money to flow more easily to secular causes?

    If someone still wishes to insist that claiming territory was wrong, I would need to hear a competent explanation for how we’re going to bring people to faith. One cannot worship the Sun god in the temple constructed for such a purpose at the same time as he attends Catholic Mass in the cathedral. One cannot genuinely intend both.

    You also comment about “respecting other cultures”. OK, what does that mean in real life?
    If a woman from Asia learns that her husband has been cheating on her, so she decides to drown herself and her children in the nearby ocean because her cultural identity demands it, do we simply stand aside and let her? One of my courses in my undergrad study seemed to insinuate that we should.
    If a cultural group would wish to steal a cat from someone, the better to offer the cat in some sort of sacrificial rite, do we allow the theft and the murder of the cat? Or do we call the police and require that someone be charged with theft and abuse of animals? Remember, we cannot do both at the same time.

    I have struggled with some of these ideas throughout my teens and 20’s; I really wanted to be able to reconcile the beliefs of the Blackfoot, Pawnee, or Sioux tribes with my Catholic faith. I wound up learning something about each of these in the effort to make them all work together. I learned in time that while various beliefs may lead in a similar direction to faith in Christ, they are not identical and cannot be reconciled. The Shining Path after death that some of the Sioux believe in simply is not capable of being reconciled ultimately with Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell.
    You simply can’t make them all work together; they logically contradict sooner or later.

    As for social structures, well, if you intend that someone should change their behavior, it’s usually helpful if you have some idea of what they should do differently and why.
    That’s a social structure.

    One of our worst failings as a Church in the last many decades is that we refuse to admit that we cannot merely present the faith and expect people to change their ways. We do, ultimately, need to impose rules that’re derived from the faith.
    Social structures will almost certainly be imposed along the way.

  65. Johannes de Silentio says:

    Permit some further observations from another inhabitant of the Albany Diocese. Bishop Scharfenberger seems to be a smart, affable, cautious, and fairly conservative company man. I have to think his appointment is owed to Cardinal Dolan, who he has known since his seminary days. Notably, he was one of the last American bishops appointed before Pope Francis’s overhaul of the Congregation for Bishops started to make itself felt. Scharfenberger’s method of governance does not appear to be as aggressive as Bishop Matano’s over in Rochester who, word is, has already seriously rocked the boat. I think this represents a difference of tactics more than a difference in underlying theological outlook. Scharfenberger eschews conflict if he can, but will not back down from preaching the faith in an authentic way. With Bishop Scharfenberger, I think we should expect slow and steady incremental change. When he reaches retirement age, Cardinal Dolan will still be archbishop of New York, and will probably have his pick of who to send to Albany. Scharfenberger’s task is essentially to set the table for his successor. Things are too out of order here to expect much more than that.

  66. pjthom81 says:

    I have been to a few Unitarian-Universalist gatherings. There is a historical pedigree to the organization (Ralph Waldo Emerson for example), but the majority of people at the meetings I went to (to debate universal health coverage of all things) were not Unitarian-Universalist by birth. The strong plurality if not majority had grown up Catholic, went into Unitarian-Universalism because it pretty much was religious liberalism in a nice tightly wrapped package, and all had massive chips on their shoulders regarding Catholicism. If the editors of the National Catholic Fishwrap were all to get up and start their own church someday it would probably look and sound an awful lot like the meetings I attended. As a result, I don’t know that any critique of theirs regarding “discovery doctrine” will have anything to do with anything except as a gauge of the emotional state of the author.

  67. elijah408 says:

    I’ve been dying to say a word about the new Bishop, REFRESHING!!

    I hear and see this word a lot from the fishwrap and others of their ilk.

  68. benedetta says:

    Inasmuch as Rev. Trumbore is in good company with GK Chesterton, who began his glad inquiry as a Unitarian, I would like to extend a warm invitation that he join us for any of the monthly meetings of the Albany Chesterton Society where he will find rest for the doubts that plague him concerning whether Catholics are still today engaged in kind and respectful discussion with seekers of all walks of life in a mode of solidarity and conviviality. Details may be found on the website. All are welcome.

  69. mpmaron says:

    Johannes de Silentio –
    I think that is a pretty good assessment.

  70. Pnkn says:

    Dear jflare

    You write much about how non-Christians behave. That has nothing to do with how Christians are asked to behave. My behavior is totally independent of my neighbors’ beliefs.
    Please, explain what in Catholicism teaches us that Christians need to impose rules and conquer territories.

    You write:
    “One of our worst failings as a Church in the last many decades is that we refuse to admit that we cannot merely present the faith and expect people to change their ways. We do, ultimately, need to impose rules that are derived from the faith.
    Social structures will almost certainly be imposed along the way.”
    “If someone still wishes to insist that claiming territory was wrong, I would need to hear a competent explanation for how we’re going to bring people to faith. One cannot worship the Sun god in the temple constructed for such a purpose at the same time as he attends Catholic Mass in the cathedral. One cannot genuinely intend both.”

    I asked how your expectations/plans were compatible with Catholicism. I’m not seeing any response to that !!
    I’m a convert. I was not forced into my beliefs. No one took my home. The faith was indeed “merely presented”: by the Mass, by the lives of Catholics, by the teachings of the Church.
    God does not force his will upon me. How would anyone think that they have a right to force their beliefs onto another person ?
    I attended services at many churches before deciding that Catholicism seemed to be “the right way”. It was the experiences in other churches that made my choice clear to me. “Compare and contrast”: an excellent way to see how Truth can be mis-presented!

    Sincerely,
    Pnkn

  71. jflare says:

    “My behavior is totally independent of my neighbors’ beliefs.”

    Pnkn, I think that is a very good summation of your stated views thus far, and I think it a dangerous misportrayal of what’s happening. If you want to declare that your behavior is totally independent of your neighbors beliefs, I think you need to reconsider what that really means.

    Consider that a public school teacher may not lead students in a prayer because some of our society–our neighbors–believe that such an act is unconstitutional and would demand the teacher suffer discipline for doing so. Or, keep in mind that people have been forbidden from praying on the steps of the Supreme Court. Or, while I chaperoned some kids to the March for Life a few years ago, D.C. police literally told us that assuming a posture of prayer beside the statue of Lincoln while visiting the Lincoln Monument was illegal!
    These are beliefs that impact the behavior of every person.
    By the way, all these cases remain the actions of peoples who’re claiming territories for themselves. If you’re displeased with the idea of anyone claiming any territory, remember that we claim territory for ourselves or others with almost every act we ever do.
    If we wish for this nation to not be forced into being secular against our will, we will be required to insist that this nation be “claimed for God” in many ways, including praying in public, erecting crosses, and other actions as we would see fit.

    “Please, explain what in Catholicism teaches us that Christians need to impose rules and conquer territories. ”
    “I asked how your expectations/plans were compatible with Catholicism. I’m not seeing any response to that !!”

    I think I’ve already commented about how we’ll need to impose values and “conquer territories”, however differently doing so today may be from a previous era. As to my plans and expectation, I’m not at all following what you’re wanting for me to explain.
    If you’re thinking that I’m going to provide some justification for genocidal intentions from three or four centuries ago, I’m not able to do that; I doubt if anyone can. On the other hand, neither can I rightly condemn the conquistadors of centuries past under today’s purported standards. If “modern Catholicism” would decry the deaths of many cultural groups, so too would it condemn the intentions of most who would condemn the conquistadors. Many who would condemn the conquistadors are only too willing to support modern day vices of abortion, contraception, gay “marriage”, and the like.

    So, I don’t know how else to answer your questions.
    Ultimately, your questions seem to me aimed at applying a standard to people in a way that makes no sense.

  72. jflare says:

    Pnkn,
    I keep thinking that I still haven’t done too well with responding to your comment, so I’ll try again, but much more briefly.
    Reviewing the posting and Rev Trumbore’s link about Doctrine of Discovery, I come across a page that talks about how papal bulls gave explorers rights to claim and exploit peoples in lands they encountered where the native peoples were not Christian. Such bulls area alleged to have also justified the deaths of those peoples who refuse to convert. I wrote a comment declaring that even if the alleged Doctrine wasn’t actually a declared doctrine, I don’t entirely disagree with the merits of the practice..

    Well, I don’t.
    Granted, I would be forced to condemn genocide and grand larceny. But I don’t think I made a case in favor of those two in the first place. I will acknowledge that many people committed many sins in bringing Christ to America. We could argue perhaps that they should’ve used different means. OK, fine. Unfortunately, the fact remains that, however cruelly the message came, the conquistadors still brought the message of Christ to the New World. Eventually, missionaries came too.
    I cannot understand how this would be a bad thing. It wouldn’t be even close to the first time that God allowed for grave vice–stealing property and life–to bring about a greater good–bringing the Word to the New World.
    As to imposition of values, well, you can’t really change a different culture without imposing some form of different cultural ideal in some way.
    If you see imposition of values as evil, I’d comment that I’ve met many a person who genuinely will not be changed by any other means. I don’t like the idea of force, except for the most extreme of circumstances. Unfortunately, sometimes you simply don’t have any other choice.

  73. jflare says:

    Pnkn,
    I tried answering your comment last night, but it appears my responses are stuck in moderation. It’s a difficult question to answer with the point that I’m trying to make.
    So, let me just ask you a few questions:
    What does the alleged doctrine that Rev Trumbone relates seem to you incompatible with Catholic faith?

    For that matter, given that Rev Trumbone, himself, seems to think that Catholics ought to be apologizing for something these days, please explain what we should be apologizing for and why.

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  75. mpmaron says:

    Providing a link to Bp. Scharfenberger’s speech. He released it as his weekly message to the diocese for the week of October 16th.

    http://www.rcda.org/our_bishop_weekly_message_Current.html

    It’s pretty awesome.

    Say what you will about Cardinal Dolan, but if he has any input on the selection of upstate Bishops, he’s doing a pretty spectacular job.