America Magazine: Pastor Apologizes for Vatican’s “Insensitive” Words

From America Magazine with my emphases and comments:

Pastor Apologizes for Vatican’s "Insensitive" Words
August 18, 2010
James Martin, S.J.

A pastor in Oak Park, Ill., has apologized to the women and women religious of his parish for the Vatican’s "insensitive and harsh words." ["insensitive and harsh"?] Here is the story from the local newspaper, the Journal of Oak Park and River Forest.

Rev. Larry McNally, pastor of Ascension Parish in Oak Park, couldn’t remain silent. "One of our catechists quit teaching religious ed. [OH NO!] We’ve been losing lectors and communion ministers all along," [Picture me in my grief.] McNally said. "Then my spiritual director quit." [SAY IT AIN’T SO!] Quit?  [How will he cope?]

"Quit the church. Then I read the article by Sheila O’Brien in the Tribune ["Excommunicate me, please," [Step right up, Sheila.  And, btw, there is an Anglican Church waiting for you.] Aug. 4]. That got to me. I had to do it."  [Oh yes… he was compelled to say something.]

"It" was a letter to the Commentary section of the [Chicago] Sun-Times, published Aug. 10, criticizing his church’s hierarchy for its treatment of women–specifically equating the ordination of women with pedophilia and investigating women’s religious orders.

This past Sunday, he wrote in the church bulletin, "As we celebrate this great feast of Mary, the Mother of God [the Feast of the Assumption], I want to take this opportunity to say to all of our wonderful and virtuous women that I am sorry. I apologize to each one of you for the insensitive and harsh words coming from the Vatican male hierarchy of the church." [What arrogance!]

"We have so many [women]religious who come to our church," McNally said. "I felt I had to say something." [Probably because he is afraid of them.]  As of Monday, he hadn’t received a single negative comment. He knows they’re coming, but he’s overwhelmed by the positive feedback he’s received.

After reading this, I just felt compelled to say something.   I apologize to all Catholics of good will everywhere for the insensitivity of this pastor in Oak Park, IL.  His harsh words wound us all.  I am sincerely sorry for the public damage he has done to the Church’s good reputation. 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Jamus says:

    “…got to me: I HAD to do it…”
    Hmmmmm. “Here I stand: I can do no other”….?

  2. irishgirl says:

    Oh. my. word.

    Talk about ‘whiners’!

    Give me a break!

  3. Jayna says:

    Tom: That is amazing.

    As to the pastor, if he just had to say something, how about explain why it wasn’t insensitive or harsh? I’m just puttin’ it out there. If he wants it, he can take it.

  4. sugrue says:

    Fr. Z, thank you for your heartfelt apology on behalf of this misguided priest. The fact that he has yet to receive a negative response means that his shepherd has not yet responded to the nonsense.

  5. Supertradmum says:

    The Bishop needs to correct him publicly, as this priest wrote a public note. The laity need the hierarchy to confront such priests. God forgive him, as he is leading others astray.

  6. ssoldie says:

    Another wonderful fruit of the last 50 years, nuff said.

  7. shadowlands says:

    I wonder what it is, that the women are feeling wronged by, from the Church I mean? What is the root cause of it, not the pseudo ‘make me a priest and I’ll be OK’ gang. Is it something that needs repenting of, by part of the body of Christ? Are Catholic women being affirmed appropriately and loudly enough by the Church, in a right and proper manner? The world is a tough place to be for women at the moment. It seeks to objectify, compartmentalise and show a very narrow path for approval. The only market for building women up globally as sisters is the L’oreal advert “because we’re worth it”. But do women know their worth in Christ, their true worth? We all know which camp we are in regarding female ordination, either in line with Church teaching or not, but is there a bridge of understanding leading to healing, that might be reached, using Our Blessed Mother as a role model?
    Whatever we think about these women and the supporters who feel obliged to vociferously support their dream, they are obviously in pain, spiritually. Has anybody sought to find out why?
    It is easy to ridicule these women, but remember ridicule is of the devil. He uses it to tempt us to sin, and after we have given way to sin, he uses it to taunt us. Christ weeps over us, and while we were yet sinners, He came and died for us.

    Mary is teaching me to love myself approptiately, in a way that the world cannot. If she can do it for me, a sinner, she can do it for the restless nuns and catechists too. Run to her heart, find your own pot of spiritual gold. Don’t race after fool’s gold, it’s shiny, but it rusts quickly.

  8. TJerome says:

    Oak Park, Illinois is an uber-liberal community, where political correctness runs rampant. This priest fits in there really, really well. I appreciate your apology, Father Z.

  9. Konichiwa says:

    In his “compromised” situation, local orthodox Catholics should sally forth and fill in the parish! “Don’t worry about those who’ve left, Father. You’ve got us. Muhahahaaa!”

  10. basilorat says:

    He’s the CONSERVATIVE one!

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the Archdiocese, Pfleger simply says we don’t need any of them! Oh, and he’s still a pastor too!

    Cardinal George, a good man, who refuses to correct or rebuke simply allows the situation to get worse! Meanwhile, we’re branded right-wing conservative simply because we uphold the Church’s teaching.

    Gotta go….
    I’ve got to decide for whom I am going to apologize, and to whom! Nice to know I don’t have to have ever met or spoke with them!

  11. TJerome says:

    By the way, other than the catechists, those other “ministries” are unnecessary with the EF. I think Father can get by without them.

  12. JohnE says:

    When a pastor insults and publicly voices disagreement the Magisterium, he has no right to complain when his flock commits a lesser crime and turns on him.

  13. Oh dear Lord… does this “Pastor” not realise what a patronising statement that really is?

    Not to mention arrogant.

    Maybe he is the reason everyone’s quitting the church… they can’t bear to listen to this drivel any more!

  14. JPIIfan says:

    Hmmm…I wonder if a tradeoff can be done. Right now, the Holy Father has made it possible for any Anglican communities faithful to the Magesterium to come into the Church. But it occurs to me that it’s wrong to take without giving something back, so I propose that in return, we gladly hand the Anglicans any dissident “Catholic” groups who are confused about where their true home is…

  15. MikeJ9919 says:

    I know these people will question everything the Church does, but I think it was a truly boneheaded move to make these changes simultaneously. I understand the rationale: both are sins against Holy Orders. But there was absolutely no reason these changes had to be made simultaneously. The Vatican was simply inviting criticism by making them at the same time. I know that Holy Church can’t be run by opinion polls, but there’s no reason it can’t have a little sensitivity to the public mood.

  16. chadmyers says:

    When I read that, all I could see/hear/understand was:
    “LOOK AT ME! I’m an attention whore!”

  17. marymartha says:

    Here’s a bit of ‘on the ground’ knowledge about Oak Park and this parish…

    Oak Park is crazy, crazy liberal (seriously crazy liberal). The Catholic Parishes are considered ‘reactionary’ there because they are the only houses of worship in the town that *don’t* have a rainbow flag out front. I’m just happy that they are at least holding that line.

    The Pastor refers to the ‘Many women religious who come to our church’… first off there are not really that many women religious in the area and those that are around are past retirement age. That said I am fairly certain that he is referring to the local Sinsinawa Dominicans who sometimes attend Mass at Ascension.

    My mother’s family was a ‘founding family’ of this parish. I am certain that my grandparents and great grandparents are spinning in their graves about this man now being the leader of Ascension – a Church to which they donated much time and money.

    PS – I know it will surprise nobody here when I share that the last three times I tried to go to confession at Ascension during the posted time (4pm on Saturday before the 5pm Mass) the priest didn’t show up. I now drive right past Ascension on my way to the Parish I attend.

  18. chadmyers says:

    To clarify: I meant Rev. McNally, not Fr. Z, is the attention whore :)

  19. doanli says:

    I thought in the beginning they were EXTRAORDINARY Ministers. (meaning, if there were no priests or deacons around to give Holy Communion.)

    Now “Eucharist Ministers” is used more often.

    I see them at daily Mass which doesn’t have a lot of attendees and I wonder why they’re even needed. (Unless they help Father because there are no altar servers.)

  20. “As we celebrate this great feast of Mary, the Mother of God [the Feast of the Assumption], I want to take this opportunity to say to all of our wonderful and virtuous women that I am sorry. I apologize to each one of you for the insensitive and harsh words coming from the Vatican male hierarchy of the church.”

    Such hypocrisy. Nobody hates or disrespects the Blessed Mother more than the feminists.

  21. Every time such scandal is brought to Christ’s Church, it is either publicly rebuked by the shepherd responsible for his flock *OR* it is publicly ignored lending it credence. Silence makes a strong statement. This is so damaging.

  22. Jack Hughes says:

    ROTFL (ok not literally but you get the gist), seriously someone please pray for this priest.

  23. TravelerWithChrist says:

    It seems the PC way these days is to apologize, for everything. Why is he a priest if he’s going to ‘apologize’ for those things which he swore an oath to – teachings of the magisterium.

    How will he answer to those who he misled and lessened their faith, thus causing them to sin further. Just went to a funeral of a little girl, at a megachurch. So many questions about what happens to these poor misguided souls… ‘but they’re good people’ doesn’t work according to the bible.

    This priest is publicly and intentionally misleading his flock; how fitting with today’s readings…

  24. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Assumption parish has been wrestling with issues regarding Church authority since this past spring, when it was revealed that Fr. Larry Reuter, S.J., a regular visiting priest, had admitted to an innapropriate relationship with a male student at Loyola Academy.

    Fr. Reuter is the former President of Loyola Academy and rector of the Loyola Chicago Univeristy Jesuit Commjunity. He was popular among the parishioners at Ascension, and worked the weekend masses for the last 10 years without anyone knowing about the relationship.

    The Chicago and Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus removed Fr. Larry Reuter from active ministry this past March after a review of his personnel files. Among the files was Reuter’s admission from years earlier that he’d “engaged in an inappropriate relationship” with an 18-year-old student when he was president of Loyola Academy.

    Fr. McNally of Assumption parish stated Fr. Reuter confessed to only one inappropriate relationship. Yet a second man has come forward with allegations that he was also been abused by Reuter. The Chicago Jesuit Province is investigating the claim and has contacted the Cook County State’s Attorney.

    Fr. Reuter has been “assigned to internal ministry with and for Jesuits only in a monitored setting.” He is in the process of being moved outside the Chicago area.

    The Chicago/Detroit Province has not been forthcoming with information regarding Fr. Reuter. It did not participate in a forum held by Fr. McNally at the parish to address this issue.

    The anger of parishoners at Assumption is due, in no small part, to terrible decisions by the Chicago Jesuits – who not only failed to remove a priest who committed abuse – but also appointed him rector of the Jesuit Community (where young scholastics study), gave him supervision over the Univeristy Campus Ministry and allowed him to minister in a local parish.

    I would further note that a simple administrative decision regarding the canonical procedure for addressing the abuse of the Sacraments has been conflated into an existential crisis by those who can impute no good to the hierarchy. People have been whipped into a lather by those who should know better.

  25. TravelerWithChrist says:

    Not too many places of employment where one continues to maintain a job after blatantly and publicly speaking out against his boss, or boss’s boss worse yet. Yea, I know, it’s not job, it’s a vocation.

  26. Ellen says:

    Such sensitive little snowflakes as they are.

  27. You notice that only the hurt feelings of certain women matter. Other women’s feelings, or those of men and boys, don’t matter. So thou shalt give grease unto the squeaky wheel, and turn a deaf ear to any squeak-like noises coming from wheels officially designated as non-squeaky.

    The problem is that some women were very carefully radicalized to consider the Church as their enemy (or at any rate, the hierarchical historical Church founded by Jesus and staffed by humans). Any kindness was patronizing. Any harshness was oppressive. Any devout man or woman was a tool of evil, or needed to be rescued and radicalized as well. Blah blah blah blah blah.

    The beauty of this approach is that the unhappier and spiritually hungrier these women get, the more they are self-directed to blame the Church and reject any possible decent solution. They’ve been put in a feedback loop they can’t escape without dumping a huge amount of their ideals, socializing, and training. Any bad things that Christian people do just perpetuate the feedback loop a little more; and so do the good things.

  28. Dear Fr. Z: You said: “Quit the church. Then I read the article by Sheila O’Brien in the Tribune [“Excommunicate me, please,” [Step right up, Sheila. And, btw, there is an Anglican Church waiting for you.]
    Dico: It’s bad enough that there is this top-to-bottom lunacy in a parish, but you should never suggest that even the worst of our brethren (or ‘sister-en’) should leave for a schismatic church. I’m surprised that came from your pen. The Roman Catholic Church is not the private country-club of cradle Catholics. It does not belong solely to the well-behaved. The Church belongs to Christ. He’s not scared of disenters; and He can tolerate their hooey a lot better than we can. Never let go of these difficult folks. Their souls were purchased at too dear a price. Shoving them out is just what the Devil wants you to do.

  29. Hans says:

    I live within the territorial boundaries of Ascension Parish in Oak Park. I go to Mass elsewhere.

  30. papaefidelis says:

    Let me make a wild prognostication, after gazing into my crystal ball and consuming vast quantities of bay leaves: I predict that Cardinal George will do nothing whatsoever. Like so many good politicians, Cardinal George may be “personally opposed” but His Eminence lacks anything resembling a spine when it comes to disciplining his clergy.

  31. TJerome says:

    Hans, you must lack “sensitivity.” By the way, I don’t blame you one bit. I rarely, if ever, go to my territorial parish because I don’t want to hurl my breakfast.

  32. TravelerWithChrist says:

    Magistra Bona:
    You say “Never let go of these difficult folks. Their souls were purchased at too dear a price. Shoving them out is just what the Devil wants you to do.”

    They are already bringing great harm to their soul as Paul says in
    1 Corinthians 11:27- “..whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.”
    This pastor know well enough, he is publicly misleading souls.

    I personally think Satan would rather try to destroy the Catholic Church from within, the stakes are higher.

  33. Hans says:

    That must be it, Tom.

    Fortunately for me, I rarely eat breakfast before Mass, only on Wednesdays when it’s in the evening. That, and I go somewhere else, where there is at least some attempt at obedience and the homilies aren’t laced with anger and dissent.

  34. TJerome says:

    Hans, I went up to one of my priests after he gave a sermon dissing the Pope and I said to him, “why would I listen to you when you insult the Pope?” He didn’t like it, but I felt much better.

  35. cblanch says:

    Bona: Didn’t the apostles “show people the door” for certain behaviors? Why would you let a tumour continue to grow in the body?

  36. Fr_Sotelo says:

    All of this new sensitivity should bode well for the SSPX. I think it would be nice of Benedict XVI to get up in the pulpit of St. Peters. Borrowing a page from the Fr. Larry manual of healing and reconciliation, the Pope can say to Bishop Fellay, SSPX clergy and faithful gathered in front of him:

    “Some of your catechists quit teaching religious ed (when they were berated for using the Baltimore Catechism). We’ve been losing sisters in full habits and subdeacons all along (because they were told to get rid of Latin and hug each other at Mass). Then my spiritual director quit (because he was a Jesuit who was told to go out and overthrow someone’s capitalist government).” The Pope would then continue as the SSPX bishops and clergy, gathered in front of him, nodded their heads and dabbed their eyes with tissues:

    “As we celebrate this great feast of Mary, the Mother of God [the Feast of the Assumption], I want to take this opportunity to say to all of our wonderful and virtuous women of the SSPX that I am sorry (because they were told how important it is to be liberated, feminist, to hate men, and never wear a mantilla).”

    Finally, after sadly recalling all the things which Pope Paul VI and Cardinal Villot said when the SSPX were suspended, Benedict XVI would burst out with trembling and tears: *I apologize to each one of you for the insensitive and harsh words coming from the Vatican male hierarchy of the church.*

    Okay, that is the end of my attempt at a tongue in cheek, humorous day dream, spurred on by Fr. Larry’s gushing, loving sensitivity for people oppressed and mistreated by the Church.

  37. Tom Ryan says:

    The future may be insensitive to these folks too:

  38. Norah says:

    Why won’t the bishops act like men and protect the flock from these wolves? Why are dissenting priests permitted to scandalise the Faithful year after year? The bishops will have to render an account of their stewardship to God Who will render justice; one would think that the thought of this, if nothing else, would prompt them to action.

    A wise priest refers to these dissenters as gangrenous limbs of the Mystical Body of Christ who should be amputated before they infect the whole body.

    [Norah, let’s think about this for a bit. These old fellers are standing directly under that big hanging knife which is being perpetually sharpened by the Biological Solution. I think we can smile as we see them flailing around. This is why we address their contributions with a measure of satire. Sure it is touch on the people of the parish. I recommend that all of those parishioners begin reading WDTPRS and buying their pastor stuff from the Say The Black Do The Red store.]

  39. To Cblanch & Traveler With Christ: Peace and every good thing to you both. Now, with respect to the dissenting, try to locate the source of the gangrene. Poor catechesis has led to many forms of wrong understanding. This is not confined to the so-called liberal wing of the laity, but can be found in equal abundance in the conservative wing. Because one parish has got it wrong does not mean it cannot get it right after being properly catechized. No one can deny the Church its power to reform and repair. And, when it seems hopeless, only the Bishop or his delegate can ‘throw’ anyone out of the Church. Do these errors rise to that level? Probably not in the view of most American bishops. That leaves the Holy Father: Has he said “throw them out!” Nope. He HAS said, however, get out there, you scandalized faithful, and teach the Faith. Catechize, re-catechize, and catechize again if necessary. Keep the truth out there. The laity cannot sit on its hands and wait for the priests to reform themselves, or for bishops to find their spinal columns. We’ve got to do it. Not gangrene, really. I think this situation is more like leaving the back door open when your kid storms out of the house and tells you that he’s “Leaving home!”. They’re still your kids. You don’t throw your kids away. You can, however, challenge them, offer them ‘tough love’, and–best of all–set a good example. But, for God’s sake, don’t make them Episcopalian.

  40. Jack Hughes says:

    satire or not Father, one hopes that at SOME point in their lives these guys completed the Nine First Friday or 5 First Saturday devotions

  41. tim mccarthy says:

    Ernest Hemingway said it best about his hometown of Oak Park it’s a suburb of broad lawns and narrow minds. Perhaps Father is trying to out do Father Pfleger on the South Side. Chicago and the suburbs, what a mess. Saul Alinsky our home town hero would be so proud.

  42. JesuitsRule says:

    I’d like to post something here incorporating some of what I’ve posted on the comment box at America’s blog:

    To those who are critical of Fr. McNally’s apology for the Vatican’s words and actions, etc., let’s step back for a moment and stop focusing on the issue of women’s ordination, or even on whether it was insensitive to address it in the same document as clergy sexual abuse. It’s possible that, whether intended or not, zeroing in on those issues allows one to avoid discussing the other actions/inaction on the part of the hierarchy which have alienated people like Sheila O’Brien (author of “Excommunicate Me, Please”) — things that are not about doctrine, but about corruption, and which no one can be faulted for critizing. For example, consider the following excerpts from what O’Brien said in her op-ed piece (I’ve omitted the stuff about women’s ordination):

    “But, the headlines continue — more pedophilia, more stonewalling by the bishops, more ‘norms’ from Rome protecting perpetrators. … And, the hierarchy, who have arguably hidden crimes and criminals, who will not open the books so we can see where our money has gone and who always claim the moral high ground…”

    Don’t focus on her comments about women’s ordination — why, given the above, should Fr. McNally not be apologizing for the Vatican’s actions? Perhaps some of those words above go too far, are misinformed, etc., but if so, here’s another point: can someone explain to my why Fr. McNally should not apologize for how Benedict rejected the resignations of those bishops in Ireland? Yes, I know, perhaps there’s some reason for it, and that the Vatican looks at these things differently (John Allen’s discussion of it is very helpful), etc., etc. But surely it was not handled well — shouldn’t Benedict have given an explanation? Even more, shouldn’t Benedict be in Ireland RIGHT NOW, rather than Castel Gandolfo? What could possibly be more important than trying to keep souls from abandoning the Church in anger over all of this? If Benedict and others aren’t going to do it, thank goodness there are priests like Fr. McNally who will.

    Another issue: Can someone explain to me why Benedict (who I still think is fundamentally a good and holy man, though) has chosen to rebuke (or whatever) Cardinal Schonborn, while choosing to allow Cardinal Law to be at St. Mary Major, not to mention a member of the Congregations for the Oriental Churches, for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, for Bishops, for the Evangelization of Peoples, for the Clergy, for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and for Catholic Education? Should Cardinal Law be in those positions of decision-making power? Can someone explain why Benedict, as Cardinal Ratzinger, held dissenting theologians accountable, but as pope has not done the same for Cardinal Law? Why was prayer and penance not enough for Roger Haight? (I disagree with Haight, but still, what did more to harm people’s faith: heterodox ideas published in a book, or the spectable of a cardinal who covered up and enabled child rape, and then said one of the Masses televised around the world when John Paul II died? And can someone tell me how, as we try to re-evangelize Europe and the West as a whole, we are going to explain this?

    It is precisely because I believe that the papacy and the episcopacy are divinely established that I am furious at those members of the hierarchy who have caused people to reject the papacy and the episcopacy and drift away from the Church. Given all that I mentioned, how can it possibly be anything but good for Fr. McNally to apologize for the Vatican’s actions and attempt to keep a few more people from leaving the Church? Following a pattern that often happens in discussions on the Church, focusing on the issue of women’s ordination is a way to brush Fr. McNally’s remarks aside and avoid looking at the outrageous, incomprehensible, stubbornly obtuse, and damnable corruption and cold-heartedness on the part of certain members of the hierarchy. Various bishops have been critized over other things — e.g., liturgical abuses, the Ted Kennedy funeral, the issue of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, to which some even called for withholding donations. Why does it seem that many are reluctant to look at this issue with the same critical eye?

    (By the way, on America’s blog, someone said Cardinal Law was never convicted of anything and that the prosecutors said there wasn’t sufficient evidence, etc. — but does that mean everyone is just mistaken and misled about him? Like OJ, should we still be looking for the real killer?)

  43. wfredrickson says:

    notice the pastor uses the term that the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer uses for August 15–Mother of the Lord; they don’t refer to Mary’s Assumption. So perhaps the pastor in question is truly an epicopalian in practice which can explain many things about his irreverance to the Holy Father and not referring to the Assumption mystery of the Blessed Mother.

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