« I learned something today | Main | In the Seminary »

December 13, 2005


tony c

Besides being the feast of St. Lucy, today is the feast of St. Odillia.

She is a patroness of the blind (like St. Lucy). And the patron of the Order of the Holy Cross. Perfect timing.

Tim Ferguson

It's odd: on the one hand, people complain when the bishops do something with the wave of an administrative hand, like declare a priest dismissed from the clerical state; on the other hand, if that person is given the opportunity for a fair hearing in the Church's legal system, it's declared "medieval" and "the Inquisition". I suppose some people just feel the need to complain...


And note the obligatory mention of Galileo.


The denomination, based in the city of Orange, holds more liberal views than the Vatican on issues such as divorce, birth control and homosexuality, and it ordains married, female, divorced and gay priests.



Frankly, I am surprised that the "Ecumenical Catholic Church" isn't a lot bigger than it is.


Wait a sec. If this trial is supposed to be so mediaeval, where are the tongs and hot pokers? No Rack? No Pyre? No impailing spike?

These Californaians wouldn't know a heresy trial if it swam up and bit them on the tukas!

Plato's Stepchild

This is very encouraging news that Inquisitions are coming; they are sorely needed. Is there anything that we, the laity, can do to help?

10W-40 lubricant for the rack, acting as parts coordinator for the home depot run of pulleys and fasteners for stretching people out.

Ya know, the corporal acts of mercy.

Fr. Totton

I would say that mention of Galileo was rather gratuitous - having nothing to do with this man's trial! If Father is found guilty, I would be interested to hear about the formal excommunication ceremony - will it look anything like that in the film Becket (of course it will be in the vernacular)?

Fr. Totton

"Reidy, who was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1962, said he had long questioned church teachings on the ordination of women and other issues. However, he said, he would have stayed at Christ of the Desert indefinitely because he had a long history there, liked his parishioners and was able to take "a progressive approach" to liturgy and ministry."

Hmm, he wasn't much interested in teaching (or for that matter, believing) what the Catholic Church teaches, but he would have been happy to remain at the parish indefinitely because he liked his parishioners and was able to take a progressive approach to liturgy and ministry - humm, sounds familiar!

Tim Ferguson

there's no rack or hot poker, but I do hear that they would be willing to put him in a comfy chair and poke him with the soft cushions...


I noticed that the real Catholics are talking about truth, while the fake--I'm sorry, "Ecumenical"--Catholics are talking about feelings, such as the "cold, mean-spirited tone..." Whether or not this points to something deeper is a conclusion that I'll leave to others.


Fr Totten

I don't believe there is a ritual for excommunication anymore. The decree is simply issued. It's purely juridical.


It ordains married, female, divorced and gay priests.

Frankly, I am surprised that the "Ecumenical Catholic Church" isn't a lot bigger than it is.

Oh come on - how many people do you know who are married, female, divorced and gay? And how many of them want to be priests?

Lynn Gazis-Sax

Married, female, divorced, and gay is certainly a possibility in Massachusetts. Here in California, you have to settle for female, divorced, gay, and living in a domestic partnership.

I'm not sure why Reidy should care about being excommunicated, since he's already left.

Jason Cone

"I'm not sure why Reidy should care about being excommunicated, since he's already left."

Because he gets lots of publicity by making a big deal of it?


Here in California, you have to settle for female, divorced, gay, and living in a domestic partnership.

The Rev. Mrs. Might be "married" to her second "husband", but gay nonetheless...

I'm curious how many "priests" this church has who are neither married nor divorced nor female nor gay.

Fr. Rob Johansen

I'm not sure why Reidy should care about being excommunicated, since he's already left.

As was explained by the diocesan official, this is being done primarily for the benefit of the faithful, not Reidy.

Although, every excommunication is intended to have a "medicinal" effect on the person(s) declared outside the communion of the Church.


'Frankly, I am surprised that the "Ecumenical Catholic Church" isn't a lot bigger than it is.'

Yeah, it's called the Episcopal Church. Ok.. maybe it's not A LOT bigger..

And it really is too bad there isn't a liturgy for excommunication anymore. I get all kinds of chills whenever I watch Burton raging away in Becket: "WE DECLARE HIM EXCOMMUNICATE AND ANATHEMA! WE CAST HIM INTO THE OUTER DARKNESS! WE JUDGE HIM DAMNED WITH THE DEVILS, THE FALLEN ANGELS, AND ALL THE REPROBATE TO ETERNAL FIRE AND EVERLASTING PAIN!

Man, if that doesn't freak you out, I don't know what would..

William in Texas

". . . the San Bernardino trial will backfire and publicize a little-known denomination that might appeal to disenchanted Roman Catholics looking for a liberal alternative that preserves Catholic rituals."

There is already a well-established and well-known "liberal alternative that preserves Catholic rituals": The Episcopal Church of the U. S. A.

Why anyone would want to start up a renegade "Catholic" church, when it would be much simpler to just join a liberal Episcopal parish, is beyond me. And I'm sure ECUSA would happily accept former Roman Catholic priests who want a "Catholic lite" alternative.

(I am a former Episcopalian, so I know whereof I speak.)

Fr. Shawn O'Neal

Reidy's not even at the trial. That's no fun.

For more big-time fun, let's wait until he's dead.


Now THAT'S Old School.



Yeah. I'm sorry the "bell, book, and candle" ritual is no longer done.

As for this priest --> Where does the Church find these guys ?

Tom Haessler

It's perfectly appropriate for the secular press to mention the Galileo case - an instance where the Church made a mistake in a heresy trial - analogous to the mistake made by Protestants into Creation "Science".

The diocesan court, of course, does not have authority canonically to excommunicate Reidy. They do have the authority to public state that he's already been excommunicated. The 1983 code, after much discussion when the consensus seemed to be moving in the other direction, lists heresy as incuring a LATAE SENTENTIAE (automatic, imposed at the moment of the crime) as opposed to a FERENDAE SENTENTIAE (imposed excommunication after a trial). The same is true, MUTATIS MUTANDIS, for the crime of schism.

It would be interesting to know what exactly the heresies are that he's charged with, but since the "trial" proceeds secretly, we don't know.

This is certainly a triumph of legalism (in the pejorative sense) and shows little concern for the welfare of the larger ecclesial community. The notion that people who've already left the Church to join a schismatic community might return if they learn that Reidy is excommunicated is ludicrous.

Do all expressions of Catholicism in California vacilate between this embarassing integralism and the Los Angeles version of "progressive" Catholicism. What's to prevent progressives from having secret trials for Lefevre priests on charges of schism?

In no way is this a victory for the cause of orthodoxy in the Church.

Tom Haessler

Tom Haessler

As for the lugubrious excommunication formula involving excommunication from the Church Triumphant as well as the Church Militant (makes great theatre! LOL), as the "heretic" Savonarola [whose cause is well advanced in Rome despite the opposition of liberal Jesuits]pointed out, the Church lacks jurisdiction to excommunicate anyone from the Church Triumphant [as Saint Joan of Arc could well testify].

Tom Haessler

Sr. Lorraine

Pray for him.

Here's an odd thing, though: a while back I saw a flyer from a similar very liberal, breakaway group from the Catholic Church (also located in California). It espoused all the same teachings as this group, but the flyer had a picture of their bishop--all decked out in ecclesiastical regalia! It seemed so incongruous. Why hold on to the trappings when they've thrown away the essentials?

Tom Haessler

And, of course, the truncated definition of heresy given in the article distorts the catechism. They left out "which must be believed with divine and catholic faith". In other words, heresy is the denial of a dogma. There are "truths" in Catholic doctrine that are not (yet?) dogma.

Tom Haessler

Old Zhou

Statement from the Diocese in April 2003:

7. # "What is the Diocese's position on the Pathfinder Renewal Center ministry and the ministry of Reverend Ned Reidy located in Palm Desert? "

As was stated and explained in the diocesan memorandum of February 18, 2000 Reverend Ned Reidy is no longer officially connected to the Diocese of San Bernardino or the Congregation of the Holy Cross. He officially resigned from the Holy Cross Order. The Holy Cross Order no longer will grant him faculties to function as a recognized Roman Catholic priest. Also, the Diocese of San Bernardino wishes to alert the Roman Catholic faithful that he is no longer considered a priest in good standing, and he is not to portray himself as a Roman Catholic priest in good standing. The Diocese also instructs the Catholic faithful that they may not participate in any religious rites, services, Pathfinder retreats, or any type of religious ritual that he performs or sponsors. Pastors are strongly encouraged to explain this prohibition to their parishioners and staff. In particular, parish groups, catechists, candidates for Confirmation, and members of parish youth groups MAY NOT participate in Reverend Reidy's Pathfinder Retreats.

The Pathfinder Renewal Center is an Old Catholic church group. It has no recognition or support from the Diocese of San Bernardino. It is not a ministry of the Newman Center. It should not portray itself as a Newman Center ministry in any way or form. The Roman Catholic faithful, through this Instruction, are prohibited from joining or formally affiliating themselves with this church group. The Roman Catholic faithful are also prohibited from participating in any religious rites and services of this Old Catholic church group. Public and conscious participation in the Pathfinder Renewal Center church group will be seen as a public act of separation and abandonment of the Roman Catholic faith. Persons persisting in joining or worshiping in this Old Catholic group are also prohibited from celebrating any sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church. Such persons must first seek the sacrament of Reconciliation from the local parish priest. Such persons must also be re-united into the life of the Church through the Office of the Diocesan Bishop.

From the article Amy cites:

Resigned in 1999

Reidy served 19 years as pastor of Christ of the Desert Roman Catholic parish in Palm Desert before resigning from the Order of the Holy Cross in 1999 to join the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, which does not recognize the Vatican's authority and has beliefs that Reidy said are more in synch with his own. In 2000, Reidy founded an Ecumenical Catholic parish in Bermuda Dunes, just east of Palm Desert. It is one of 18 Ecumenical Catholic parishes nationwide.

The denomination, based in the city of Orange, holds more liberal views than the Vatican on issues such as divorce, birth control and homosexuality, and it ordains married, female, divorced and gay priests.

Reidy was automatically excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church when he joined the Ecumenical Catholic Communion. The diocese is holding the heresy and schism trial because some Roman Catholics might still believe Reidy is a practicing Roman Catholic priest, said the Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the diocese. Reidy's current church is only a few miles from his old Roman Catholic parish, Lincoln said.

"He is still using the term 'Catholic' in quotes, in advertising and on the Internet," he said. "Because of the confusion in not differentiating between his church and the Roman Catholic Church, the diocese felt we must proceed with this official action in order to make that distinction."

Reidy said he severed his ties to the Roman Catholic Church when he resigned from his order. The homepage of Reidy's current parish, Pathfinder Community of the Risen Christ, states: "We are a Non-Roman-Catholic Community."
In a June 15 document delineating the accusations, Stephen Osborn, promoter of justice for the diocese, wrote that Reidy committed "offenses against the Christian faithful by espousing and teaching matters contrary to divine law and to the universal law of the Catholic Church."

Among other things, Osborn cites the Ecumenical Catholic church's refusal to accept the infallibility of the pope, its blessing of same-sex unions and its ordination of women.

Bishop Peter Hickman, the Ecumenical Catholic denomination's leader, said the language in Osborn's missive is offensive.

"The cold, mean-spirited tone of the letter makes you think this was from a few centuries ago," he said.

Reidy said he joined the Ecumenical Catholic Communion because the Holy Cross order planned to reassign him and he did not want to leave the desert. The order typically limits a priest's stay in one parish to 12 years.

In 2003, the Holy Cross order formally dismissed Reidy, said the Rev. Ken Molinaro, assistant provincial for the order.

Reidy, who was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1962, said he had long questioned church teachings on the ordination of women and other issues. However, he said, he would have stayed at Christ of the Desert indefinitely because he had a long history there, liked his parishioners and was able to take "a progressive approach" to liturgy and ministry.

Most of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion's 35 priests are former Roman Catholic priests, Hickman said.

So, the trial really is not for him, but to make a public statement for the sake of those Catholics who might be deceived by his use of the word "Catholic."

But, the Diocese already made a clear statement in April 2003. I don't know why they want to do this.

Here is a recent article on his Pathfinder retreats from October 2005.

Here is the high-profile, high-praise article about him from National Catholic Reporter in 1999. I imagine this article got him a lot of trouble.

... Ned Reidy is a nut about retreats and renewal programs. In Portland he'd offered students silent weekends, personally directed retreats and Zen retreats, and he wanted something similar for Palm Desert students and parishioners at the Christ of the Desert Newman Center he'd started.

When Reidy and his team couldn't find what they wanted, they developed their own.

With the Catholic liturgy, the scriptures and Creation Spirituality at their core, Pathfinder Renewal Weekends are now in their 20th year. They have attracted more than 7,000 people -- 90 percent of them Catholics -- from all over the San Bernardino diocese, from San Diego, from Phoenix. "I hardly knew him and he was inviting me to Pathfinder," said Meg Leusch. Now she's a member of the Pathfinder team.

"He drove me nuts. He nagged me to death to go to Pathfinder," said Vince Starace, interviewed a few days before he headed up to the nearby mountain ranch to lead the parish teen Pathfinder weekend. "I went. It was a real downer. Went a second time, and it was a great awakening." Reidy began Pathfinder weekends with high school and college students. Then he broadened it so the weekends are now intergenerational.

But what is it?

A Pathfinder weekend, Reidy replied, "provides an opportunity for people to get in touch with their own story. It's not just a groovy weekend of hi and goodbye. It's not indoctrination into Catholic principles or anything else. I see it as an opportunity to learn from one another. Simply, once people start talking, they feel a breakthrough in growth happening in their own life."
"First there's the desert's contribution to all this," McCarthy said. "Never a service goes by in this parish without someone thanking God for the glory of the desert and mountains experience.

"On a Pathfinder weekend, people get to feel they are in a sacred place," said McCarthy, who is completing her doctorate in Creation Spirituality at Matthew Fox's university in Oakland.

"We bring in cosmology," said McCarthy, "that we're not just this isolated spot. Yet the gathering is uniquely Catholic and uniquely Creation Spirituality. There is no opposition between the two.

"Pathfinder is all inclusive, all welcoming. The celebration, being able to have a happy celebration -- the setting, the liturgy in a circle, the dance -- that's probably the essence, right there," she said.

"Just coming out of the desert and up to the mountain top you get to see the overall. They ask: How am I doing in my life? Is this how I want it to be?" said McCarthy.

"Thousands of people have cried their tears here, shared, remembered their past and used their pain to give back to the community -- asking, 'What could be a new ministry I could create?"

And from that question have come the parish's many ministries: from 12-step programs to a youth group, from theology classes to support groups, from peer ministry training to seminars on aging, to Tough Love.

Holy Cross Br. Carl Sternberg is on site as a spiritual life ministries director, and there is a parish-affiliated and credentialed marriage, family and child counselor, Colette Fay, nearby. Also linked to the Newman Center is Holy Cross Fr. Bill Faiella, a credentialed pastoral counselor.

The guy is certainly a free spirit, and did the right thing, I think, in separating from the Diocese and the Order. But I don't understand, really, why the Diocese wants to do this trial. Maybe it is just to give the canon lawyers some practice?

Tom Haessler

Hi, Sr. Lorraine!

Why do they hang on to the "trappings" when they throw away the essentials. Well, Sister, there's a long history of those uncomfortable with the fullness of Catholic truth grooving on ecclesiastical drag! There's even an excellent Fellini film (ROMA) about aging Italian aristocrats pining for the days when cardinals' trains were eighteen feet long! I've known more than one "gay" priest who waxed enthusiastically about the sewing on vestments, their drape, their fabric! Ugh!

We've come a long way from the days when virile Roman soldiers thought the German dudes were sissies because they wore pants (and wouldn't let the cold waft around their bare legs like the Roman men). Now that the secular associations connected with male dress have so radically changed, maybe it's time to rethink priests wearing cassocks outside of liturgy! I'm all for sisters wearing dresses (not pants suits) and priests wearing pants (like other men).

Tom Haessler


If Reidy is convicted I hope he insists that the official document be accompanied by a frameable photo of pope Benny in his fabulous red Prada shoes.

Tom Haessler

Thanks Old Zhou for all the additional information!

Why don't these people join the ECUSA? Well, association with the even smaller Old Catholics makes advance to the episcopacy all that much quicker. No need to exhaust yourself in animal rights campaigns, "gay" weddings, and Planned Parenthood escortings!

Tom Haessler

Tom Haessler

Thanks Old Zhou for all the additional information!

Why don't these people join the ECUSA? Well, association with the even smaller Old Catholics makes advance to the episcopacy all that much quicker. No need to exhaust yourself in animal rights campaigns, "gay" weddings, and Planned Parenthood escortings!

Tom Haessler


If anyone knows where to find the text (pref. Latin and English) of the old Rite of Anathema, please e-mail me. Sounds interesting.

Also, if anyone knows if the Anathema read in "Tristram Shandy" is an actual historical document, or just an Anti-Catholic fabrication on the part of Rev. Sterne, please e-mail me.


As for this priest --> Where does the Church find these guys ?

Bad seminary formation? Just a thought.

Patrick Rothwell

The Anathema in Tristan Shandy appears to be closely based on the colorful curse of the Archbishop of Glascow, Gavin Dunbar, against border thieves. It's a great read, and probably a well-deserved curse. But I don't think it has anything to do with the official Pontifical ceremony of the greater excommunication. It was likely a one-off decree.



"It's perfectly appropriate for the secular press to mention the Galileo case - an instance where the Church made a mistake in a heresy trial..."

Perhaps, if the secular press would present the Galileo trial in its proper context and complexity. Galileo is used by Church opponents as the paradigmatic case of Science vs. Religion, when in fact the case had far more to do with 17th Century Italian and Vatican Court politics than it did actual religious objections to science (indeed, it was well known by educated people, including churchmen, by that time that the Ptolemaic system was not correct, many however still viewed the system of Galileo's contemporary, Tycho Brahe, as more likely to be correct). Galileo had been actively promoting the Copernican theory for nearly a quarter century prior to his trial, and was during that time one of the Pope's favorite courtiers at the Vatican. If his science itself were really the primary precipitating factor in his trial, Galileo would have been charged long before 1633. Politics and personalities, sadly, were the real factors leading to Galileo's trial; but, of course, the secular press and contemporary scientists get much more mileage out of presenting it as a fundamental clash between Science and Religion.



Life is not fair. Them's the breaks for the Church doing these things. The fact that the nuances took centuries to unravel and resolve pontifically mean that its unreasonable to expect the press to take that burden on when it took our own church so long to do so. That's what happens with these things, and is a good reason to avoid them. (Which is why the learned Roman instinct is indeed to avoid them.)


In our diocese, there are two churches associated with SSPX. Our bishop merely issued an official pronouncement in the local Catholic paper that these churchess are not in communion with Rome and that attending Sunday services at them does not satisfy the Sunday Mass obligation. We have another church or two associated with the Old Catholic Church. It is well known these churches are not part of the local diocese. I find it hard to believe that Catholics in Bermuda Dunes and environs would be uninformed on the matter or that this Ecumenical Catholic community would try to "put one over" on practicing Roman Catholics who might inquire about the community's status. I, too, question the need for any kind of "trial." I'm reminded of the NT passage where Jesus' disciples complain to him about "other" guys doing good deeds in the Lord's name and that Jesus should do something about it. And what does the Lord do? He dismisses his disciples' concerns as basically petty in nature: the "others" are ministering in Christ's name. I think there's a lesson here for us today: Live and let live. God works through "all" his people.

To San Bernardino's bishop, I suggest dropping this matter and getting on with diocesan business, which surely includes more pressing matters than "trying" a 69-year-old priest who has decided to pursue a different ministerial path.

God bless the priest, and God bless the bishop.

Tom Haessler


Bad seminary formation? Indeed, apparently his pre-counciliar seminary formation in Thomist philosophy and theology (he was ordained in 1962!) did not equip him to negotiate the theological storms of the post-counciliar period.

Tom Haessler

Tim Ferguson

much like his ordination classmate Roger Mahony...

Tom Haessler

The point about Galileo is that he WAS condemned as a heretic. The Church tribunal was criticized by John Paul the Great for trying to find how the heavens go in the Bible! Not entirely unlike Protestant fundamentalists who find science in the first three chapters of Genesis. The Church can and sometimes has made mistakes in deciding who was a heretic. I'm praying for the beatification of Savonarola. He's been regarded as a martyr by many generations of Dominicans. Of course, they will first have to lift his excommunication (as they did before canonizing Joan of Arc). Perhaps the fact that Savonarola welcomed repentent sodomites into the Dominicans to study for the priesthood will further delay his beatification. Parents used to lock up their teens who wanted to hear him preach because so many of them went to confession afterwards and then joined religious orders!

Tom Haessler


Yep, that Savonarola was always a big champion of Gay Rights...

Tom, just from reading your posts today, I'm wondering about your grasp on reality.


I'm not arguing that the Church wasn't objectively mistaken in prosecuting Galileo, just that his case must be understood with due regard for the total religious, scientific, and political situation at the time. It's too simplistic for people to look back in hindsight simply to condemn the Church and to use the case as a pretext for claiming that the Church is anti-Science and obscurantist. The fact that it "took the Church so long" to rehabilitate Galileo is rather beside the point. Galileo and his case were moot issues by the time JPII "rehabilitated" him, and let's face it the formal "rehab" was itself more for political/PR purposes rather than any real doctrinal or theological necessity.

It is also especially wrong to allude to, or draw an analogy with, the Galileo case in the context of an article about a Priest on trial for heresy; they are two completely different situations. The Priest, by virtue of his becoming a Priest in the first place, has, unlike a secular scientist, voluntarily put himself under the jurisdiction of the Church in such matters as his doctrinal soundness; though whether he still considers himself a Catholic or a Priest seems to be questionable, so perhaps one could argue that such a trial is not necesary in this case. I'll leave that to Canonists.

Tom Haessler

Well, hieronymous, this time you've got a reading problem. Savonarola, far from being a champion of gay rights was famous for his vigorous denunciation of sodomy among laity and clergy in his sermons in Florence. This is mentioned in all the biographies. The liberal Jesuits who oppose his beatification are worried about his "fundamentalism" (translation: anti-sodomy stance). The tongue in cheek remark about his admission of REPENTENT sodomists to religious life was an allusion to the recent Instruction. And a reminder that sexual orientation is a very recent concept. In the fourteenth century people thought of sin and repentence, not in terms of deficiencies in human affectivity. I've reread my post four times now and can't for the life of me understand why you'd think that I thought Savonarola was a champion of "gay" rights. From reading your post I'm wondering if everyone fascinated with "Anathema rites" has an eisogesis problem.

Tom Haessler

Tim Young

"there's no rack or hot poker, but I do hear that they would be willing to put him in a comfy chair and poke him with the soft cushions..."
From one Tim to another, I guess no ever expects the Spanish Inquisition...


"Why hold on to the trappings when they've thrown away the essentials?"

IMO these are power-trippers who need affirmation. They simulate the Roman Catholic hierarchy because they know that there is real power & authority in a valid ordination. But no amount of simulation can conjure up the Holy Spirit, although I suppose their antics might be attractive to some people.

Perhaps these groups have something in common with Satanic cults, in that both types recognize the power of God but reject it in favor of a lesser, created entity. Satan is the entity for one type; the self is the entity for the "Ecumenical catholic church". Sad.


I'm familiar with this situation and with the Congregation of Holy Cross' mission in the San Bernadino desert. The Pathfinder retreats are not just Fr. Ned's invention, they are a major work of the whole Congregation of Holy Cross in Palm Desert. I know many teenagers who have gone on the retreats and had a serious awakening in their faith.

The Path Finders retreat was actually begun by Fr. John Connors, who is one of the most generous and simple priests I know. Very much a man of God, even if some would call him "liberal." The retreat isn't. It grew beyond Fr. John and was taken up by Fr. Ned at the college level.

There are many people in the Coachella Valley who attribute their faith and their commitment to Christ because of the Path Finder retreats (and the especially the Missionary Encounter Retreat at the Valley Missionary Program). The Diocese of San Bernadino recognizes that Fr. Ned has been associated with these activities and has chosen to walk away from the faith.

In order to protect the faith of those who would not otherwise know, and would maybe be corrupted by Fr. Ned, the Diocese is going through with a very public excommunication so that every one in the Valley knows and is aware that Fr. Ned is no longer a Catholic priest and should be not be looked upon as one.

I think it's a great thing. Especially because I know many kids who looked up to him and thought of him as a bit of a spiritual father. At least now there's truth in advertising. He's a liar and fraud and should be publicly named as one.


Getting the word out about a renegade priest such as this does help protect people from being deceived about the validity of marriage rites he might conduct or confessions he might celebrate.

Tom Haessler

But, Stephen, why not just call a press conference and say that Fr. Ned has joined the Old Catholics and is therefore automatically excommunicated? You don't need a trial for that. Renegade priests do things like join the Episcopal Church or the Buddhists or the Old Catholics all the time. In such cases of public scandal, you don't need a trial. Just a public statement that Fr. Ned is no longer a Catholic because...... .

Tom Haessler


The explanation of the diocesan official is plain enough: the priest is advertising his services -- apparently not only on the net -- and using the term 'Catholic'.

It's an effort to proselytize: to attract the Catholic faithful to his group, so an extra effort on the Church's part to prevent confusion is fitting.

sharon d.

Moving off on RC's tangent, would marriages blessed by a faux "priest" really be invalid? The sacrament (if the marriage is between two baptized persons) is ministered by the persons to each other, not by the priest. Surely the defect of form, being unintentional, wouldn't be enough to invalidate the marriage. But these are murky waters.



Do you think they would be getting this much press if they had just had a "press conference"? But a heresy trial! Now the media is buzzing . . . and everyone is hearing about it.

I think it's a pretty effective "press conference."

Tim Ferguson

Sharon, the marriage of would be invalid if at least one of the parties was Catholic and a dispensation was not given. While it is true that the parties themselves confer the sacrament, an essential element of the Catholic form of marriage, to which Catholics are bound by ecclesiastical law, is the presence of the local ordinary, the pastor, or a priest, deacon or (in special cases) a layperson delegated to witness. Since these "renegade" priests do not have the requisite delegation, marriages of Catholics that they witness would be invalid due to a defect of form.

Tim Ferguson

reference for above comment - canon 1108 of the Latin Code - (the Eastern Code is even more strict - the witness must be the ordinary, pastor or delegated priest - no deacons or laypeople could be delegated).


There is much more to this story than meets the ears……

I was one of the original parishioners of the Newman Center, Christ of the Desert Church when Reidy was still a Holy Cross priest. He was inspirational because of his love for Christ, and because he was a good motivational speaker/teacher. However, Riedy had a problem.
Reidy left the Newman Center when an immature woman, named Kimberly, who was 30 some years his junior, publicly claimed they were having a sexual affair. This coincided with Kathy McCarthy’s big claim to fame; priesthood---what a joke---.With his support, they denounced the Church to their community of Catholic believers. His actions broke up a wonderful group of people who had found comfort in the small church. He betrayed many friends who loved him with his lies and actions.

The young woman left the Desert in shame, but before doing so she paid a visit to Notre Dame where she made allegations against Riedy of having a sexual liaison. I’m sure she also confirmed his heresy against the Church. Apparently there was not enough opportunity for the ambitious young woman and the ruthless Rev. Kathy to share the affections of their priest, and it all blew up in a struggle for power between the three of them.

Reidy is exploiting the word “catholic” in claiming to be an Ecumenical Catholic denomination leader. As a once great priest and leader of people, he is struggling to create dignity in his marginalized status and powerlessness. He is desperately trying to keep his failing church operational and in doing so under the guise of “catholic teaching,” he is misleading people, again, with a fallacious dogma twisted from the original teachings of the Church to sustain his flawed beliefs and narcissistic character. He has denounced the Church, so he should go.

Unfortunately, Reidy’s legacy will be his betrayal of community, friends and the Church, but most of all, let us not forget the one he betrayed the most; our Lord, Jesus Christ. After all, Riedy did take a vow that bound him to Christ.

Susan Peterson

This story is really not clear. Who is Kathy McCarthy? I've never heard of her. Kathy and Kimberly denounced the church...for what? He supported them? Why? They were rivals for his affection? Was he actually involved with either of them?

It is hard to relate a series of events in a way that makes sense to those not involved in it. If it is important to tell us about it, it needs a little more explaination.


Ms. McCarthy is the "co-pastor" of Fr. Reidy's organization. According to a 1999 NCR article, she was formerly a Glenmary sister and later a wife and mother. A companion article describes the retreats in which Fr. Reidy presented his vision of spiritual life:

"By the Sunday afternoon liturgy," he said, "people are on fire. Not about 'Jesus is our savior,' but about a whole new way of men and women relating, of getting in touch with the dark side of your life without being crippled by it, a whole new way of experiencing community, of their story, their goals, their future, their gifts. Perhaps new images of God. A sense of decision to wake up, grow up," Reidy said.

Yeah, who needs that "Jesus is our savior" stuff?


While a member of the Newman Center, and before she became a priest, Kathy had an inner circle of “sacred dancers.” Membership was by invitation only. Her members were specially chosen young women from the congregation, and herself, the old crone. It was very sexual dancing. Included in the inner circle activities were specially held masses performed and attended to by woman only. She was the high priestess. I don’t know if communion was served or not, no one would say; it was all very secretive. In fact, much of what happened around the center was very guarded. Again, she and Reidy only picked the one’s they thought would comply, usually very young or emotionally disturbed females.

Kimberly a young and troubled woman was sexually involved with Reidy by her own admission. She was a jealous woman who absolutely destroyed him by her possessiveness. Near the end, before every thing fell apart, she started telling some of the youth and young adults about her older lover; later she identified him as Rediy. She would not let any one near him which resulted in many members leaving, clearly able to discern what was going on between them.

Kathy in her insane quest to become a priest also led the weak man astray though her constant badgering about true Christianity, old Christianity and the Sophia crap. They referred to God as “She” or mother God. She told Reidy that he was being persecuted for his true conviction all the time. She ran the show and he let her because he was unorganized.

The Pathfinder retreats were dangerous; I would never let my children attend. I myself started one, but left before the ending. I considered the tactics employed at the retreats to exploitive of emotionally and mentally disturbed individuals, many of them children or young adults. They seemed to desperately need Reidy’s approval. During the retreats, selected leaders would keep the people in emotional turmoil for hours. It was highly psychologically charged and also unsupervised by professional people i.e. therapists or social workers. The participants would be told during unrelenting sessions for hours and over a period of 2.5 days, that they were defective and needed Reidy’s blessing so they could be healed. The goal was to be broken.

Every thing at the Newman Center was out of control. People were vying constantly for leadership positions and as different members assumed more leadership roles Reidy withdrew from his priestly responsibilities. There was no visiting the sick and dying. Community outreach consisted of ecumenical interfaith councils we were told, but later found out he was aligning himself with "Ecumenical Catholic Church". Biggest joke was his Young Adult’s program. He did not foster it or promote it. He received money from the Archdiocese because it was a Newman Center but yet, he had no young adults meetings because the group was so poorly formed. Mind you the church was directly across the street from the college.

The church was a renegade church, attended to by a renegade priest who was lead through the nose, so to speak, by self serving women and a few men. As a result, his parishioners were badly neglected and it was very, very confusing.

I feel very sorry for this man. He lost very much. At one time he was a dynamic teacher and he did embrace many people who had fallen away from the Church for many reasons. He just took a very wrong turn when he followed Rev. Kathy down her glory path to priesthood.

I would like to know why no one intervened in his behalf when they clearly saw how self-destructive he was becoming. Where were the archdiocese and his follow Holy Cross priest friends? Why didn’t Brother Carl Sternberg or his so-called best friend, Vince Starace speak up and tell the truth so Reidy could have been offered some help. Sometimes we have to make tough choices to protect someone’s best interest. As parents we tell our children not to do things that will hurt themselves. We stop them even though they get mad, but we do it out of love. NO one did that for Reidy which just goes to show how emotionally immature and defective the people were who were around him.


Like any organization, the church has the right to publiclly dismiss thier members as necessary by its own rules. In the case of Fr Reid, it is necessary.


This would make a great CBS Movie of the Week. Good Lord Almighty!


Janey, I am one of the "sacred dancers" that you wrote about & our participation was NOT by membership only & the dance was NOT of sexual orientation. Many of the other women that danced were older than me and also were older than Kathy. At that time I was in my mid 30's and am now 43. Liturgical dance is far from emotionally disturbed women or very young ladies dancing.

Sacred dance, for me, is a way to express what I cannot say in words, whether it's prayer, praise, or supplication. I'm not a professional dancer, but I know when the Spirit moves in me, I can communicate with the One Power. Sacred dance is sharing my faith with others who might not hear words. If the Power spreads through my movements, I may be an instrument that might touch someone’s spirit or soul, some how, somewhere, at the right time. I'm not sure I'd care to define sacred dance any more than I would care to define religion or faith. Spiritual dance for me is music, movement, meditation in prayer and if anyone views it as having sexual innuendos then I would invite them to go to www.sacreddanceguild.org to learn more about it

Woman’s liturgy was not a secret, nor was the mens group which you failed to mention. It was an opportunity for individuals of the community to worship and share. Pathfinder Retreats were nothing of what you speak. Considering you felt your children could never attend, and you, yourself did not attend the entire weekend, how can you proclaim what the intensions and/or out come could be. There has NEVER been a time that the participants at Pathfinder were defective and that Ned gave blessings to individuals in order for them to be healed. The unrelenting sessions as you call it is nothing of the sort. No one, just like yourself has ever been held and the time spent is to hear and share w/one another the personal difficulties of our lives.

It is unfortunate that the opinion expressed is condemning against Kathy McCarthy and Ned Reidy. Please don't feel sorry for Ned, for he is a humble person and Kathy is a gracious and caring individual who did not "lead" Ned into a path of destruction. The compassion, understanding and hope they give is a gift for any and all who are accepting.

I too know Br. Carl and Vince and they are NOT defective people nor are they too immature to offer help to those in crisis.

I do embrace you and pray that like those of the Christ of the Desert Chapel and The Church of the Risen Christ that your heart is open and lifted that someday the light of truth will shine upon you.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)