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February 18, 2006

Comments

DOCTOR J

I love Niederaurer's homily.

I'm a Balthasarian who thinks the route of aesthetics might - just might - be a route that modernists and post-modernists can take to give the Church a sympathetic look.

The "intelligent design" ploy is alienating so many who would otherwise be sympathetic to the Church.

Art is the way, guys - not science.

janen7

I had an opportunity to attend Mass at the Cathedral in Saginaw (my home town) a few weeks ago.

After Mass my 19 year old daughter said, "I can't believe it, Mom. It was terrible! Did you see how those people were handling the Eucharist?" The eucharistic bread was what looked like a mixture of wheat flour, honey, and oil. After the consecration, the Eucharistic Ministers were preparing it by roughly tearing it apart, crumbs flying.

During the consecration, the Eucharistic ministers, as well as the congregants raised their chalices (hands) as if they were consecrating the elements as well.

Finally, in reverse chronological order, when the RCIA candidate left for instruction there was a song prayed for him that went something like, "May he bless you and keep you, may his face shine upon you." followed by "May she bless you and keep you, may her grace shine upon you."

May He bless you and keep you, Bishop Carlson!

maria horvath

According to that article, Bishop Calvo will be "the diocese's seventh bishop and the first with an ethnic background."

What does that mean? Don't we all have an "ethnic" background? The term must be code, but for what?


Jeff Miller

"(ordained) people who can consecrate the elements"

Not quite - Deacons don't fit in that category.

I wonder if reporters have ever referred to government regulations as "dictates", yet anything coming from the Vatican they don's like always fits in that category.

vox climantis

"...installed today in a ceremony at the Reno Hilton Pavilion."

Huh? Is this right? And I always thought episcopal ordination happened in the local Cathedral. Oh well, it's nice to know attendees might collect Hilton loyalty points and get their parking validated.

Fr. Totton

Of course the Cathedral parish has the responsibility to set the tone for liturgical practice in a diocese. I hope that His Excellency gets a handle on the outrageous goings on described by Janen7 above.

As far as the Hilton Grand Pavillion, there was a custom (I think it was big in the eighties and nineties) of having solemn diocesan functions (the ordination of a Bishop seems to be the preeminent example) in large rented exhibition/convention type spaces so as many faithful could attend as possible. A wonderful sentiment, but very impractical. I had heard that when Bishop Gaynor (sp?) was appointed to Lexington, KY, one of his predecessor's henchwomen began setting wheels in motion to have his ordination at some large public arena, when the Bishop-elect got wind of her plan, he put a stop to it immediately!

William

"...there was a custom (I think it was big in the eighties and nineties) of having solemn diocesan functions (the ordination of a Bishop seems to be the preeminent example) in large rented exhibition/convention type spaces so as many faithful could attend as possible. A wonderful sentiment, but very impractical." There about 1500+ Catholics in my diocese who would argue with you on this. Since our Cathedral holds only about 1000, these folks never would been able to attend the installation of their wonderful bishop (solidly orthodox. There was nothing impractical about it. Everyone who wanted to attend was able to and I for one am glad.

Fr. Larry Gearhart

Sad to say, but Bishop Carlson's integrity is relatively rare among U.S. Catholic bishops.

Fr. Brian Stanley

"I know the only reason I was able to preach at all is because Bishop Ken allowed and asked me to do so. In fact, I believe Saginaw is the only diocese that did allow women to preach," said Choate, a lifelong member of St. Mary Cathedral, 615 Hoyt in Saginaw.

That, in a nutshell, sums up much of the problems in Saginaw: little or no regard for what the rest of the Church is doing, and a total focus upon the bishop, which had become [and I use the word quite deliberately] a cult of personality. Bishop Untener, for all his many gifts, was not ever the supreme legislator. But you would never know this listening to his many supporters who benefitted from his personal largesse, which overstepped his legitimate authority on many occasions. It will be the great challenge of the decade to overcome the kind of personal authority that has accrued among many of these lay pastoral associates in Saginaw, who have little regard and, sadly, in its place, contempt for the ordained clergy.

Given that such abuse of authority [how odd to use the phrase in regard to a progressive prelate] occurred over such a long time, it will be difficult to imagine that such would be overcome. Bishop Carlson will probably not win over many of these by either force of argument or canonical authority or even by his own charitable personal witness. These lay ministers are of a strange sort, like people who practice medicine without benefit of medical school or state license or residency. I'm sure that they've had some training: some may even hold diplomas and degrees, and having been installed in some ceremony, with appropriate prayers and blessings. Now that the personal authority of Bishop Untener is exposed as limited, defined, and now abrogated, there will be little else to do except wait these people out, a generation that must pass away, like the Israelites during the sojourn in the desert. Bishop Carlson has been most generous to point out the other venues appropriate for lay preaching. But this will matter little, because, like the old World War I song, "How can you keep them down on the farm, once they have seen Paree?"

The corollary to this problem, of course, is the ingrained notion of ministry more as privilege and less as service. The personal touch of Bishop Untener made it seem to these ministers that they received a gift from him, and hence the constant reference to the late bishop, and less to service to God and to his people. It goes back to the cult of personality, one that you will never quite convince me that the late bishop didn't consciously cultivate, albeit for what he perceived to be his positive agenda for the Church.

Gerald Augustinus

It's like people complaining that an Army captain can't deliver the State of the Union.

David Kubiak

Of course I could hardly agree more with Fr. Stanley about Bishop Untener, but the problem is that what he rightly identifies as the "cult of personality" is what a lot of people, including some people in Rome not so long ago, call "collegiality".

Breier

There is no paralle between Church teaching on abortion and euthanasia, and positions on capital punishment and immigration law.

The important distinction was covered ad nauseam during the last Presidential election.

Breier

For indeed, there is no official "position" viz a viz capital punishment and immigration law.

To imply that there was, and at the same status as settled Catholic teaching on morals, does a disservice to the cause of the magisterium.

Fortiterinre

Amy,

"Classy" lead indeed! But I thought that even an uninstalled bishop had "jurisdiction" the moment he says yes to the nucio.

Because I am full of this kind of useless information, I think you should know that in the Church of England in the 1800's, the "moment" of installation was when the bishop-designate was presented to Queen Victoria and kissed her hand! Lips on royal hand = installed bishop!

Todd

I must take exception to some of Fr Stanley's post and a few other comments regarding lay preaching. When Untener was appointed, canons 766 and 767 were widely interpreted to permit the local bishop a prudential leeway in determining if and when lay people could preach at liturgy.

One can opine about the advisability of lay people preaching at Mass, but it would be inaccurate to suggest Untener or any other bishop was lax, heterodox, (or any of the other St Blog's perjoratives of choice) to permit it until recently. The loophole was closed just a few years ago by the curia, and that fact, not the pseudo-dissent of any bishop, is what has caused the local break from practice.

That said, everybody should realize two things:
- Local bishops have the right to oversee liturgy
- Preaching, even for clergy is not a "right," but a duty. If one is relieved of such duty, one hopes it is for the benefit of the whole, not for the privilege of a few.

Ironically, Unetner was one of the few US bishops to take preaching seriously and pass that seriousness on to his clergy and lay preachers with practical steps, and in his own leading by example.

The Church would be substantially healthier with more bishops like Untener, and it appears, like Calvo in Reno, his choice of a hotel ballroom notwithstanding. Nickless, for his rather presumptuous and short-sighted invitation of 300 Colorado homies to Iowa, comes off as a bit challenged in the etiquette department in the recent round of episcopal ordinations.

Tom Haessler

Of course, Brian, there's a magisterial position on capital punishment, found in the catechism and EVANGELIUM VITAE. It's not just prudential judgment as some have held, but authentic teaching calling for religious assent. The fact that it's not as ancient as the infallible teaching on abortion and euthanasia does not mean that it's not binding. Faithful Catholics do not pick and choose on the grounds that new teaching is not infallible. Vatican I (repeated at Vatican II) noted, contrary to integralist Sola Traditio views, that the Church continues throughout history to take NEW THINGS and old things from the deposit of faith.

john

I completely agree with Fr. Stanley's fundamental premise, and completely reject the idea of anyone other than ordained preaching at the liturgy.

However, I think he chose the wrong rationale with this comment: "These lay ministers are of a strange sort, like people who practice medicine without benefit of medical school or state license or residency. I'm sure that they've had some training: some may even hold diplomas and degrees, and having been installed in some ceremony, with appropriate prayers and blessings."

The implication here is that their lack of training or ability is what should disqualify them from preaching. What of lay ministers who have licentiates or doctorates from Rome, when their pastor holds only an MDiv from a weak seminary in the US? What of the priests who, though holy, are very poor preachers, while their lay staff are quite charismatic and effective at preaching?

I think Bishop Carlson himself chose the wiser path of argument, which is the call of God. A lay man or woman could be quite talented at preaching, and may have credentials, but we are simply not called to do so. Bishop Carlson also points out that there are appropriate venues for talented and credentialed lay men and women to preach, like retreats, rallies, etc.

I believe that the question of appropriate role in the Church needs to come back to the discussion of call, not credential. I also believe we should avoid personal characterizations, such as "of a strange sort." While I have been quite offended by the actions of some lay ministers, I've also been very blessed by many who do see their lives at the service of the Church. I could say the same for many ordained clergy as well. Its not about who's better, its about who is called.

This is where I fall exactly in line with Fr. Stanley. If one feels called to serve the Church in lay or ordained ministry, it should be at the service of the whole Church and Christ. The disposition must be one of service, not power, one of humility and not title.

Breier

Tom,

You assume what you need to prove, namely a binding teaching on the application of capital punishment that does not exist.

Indeed there is a magisterial position on the issue. It's that capital punishment, like a just war, under the right conditions, is licit. See the Roman Catechism and the perrennial teaching of the Church's moral theologians, such as St. Alphonsus Ligouri, their prince, for confirmation of that.

The determination of that is left to the competent civil authorities. I suggest reading Cardinal Dulles' articles on the subject in First Things.

Fast 75

"The eucharistic bread was what looked like a mixture of wheat flour, honey, and oil. After the consecration, the Eucharistic Ministers were preparing it by roughly tearing it apart, crumbs flying."

You should take comfort in the fact that it was only honeybuns, not the True Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that was bandied about by profane hands.

Many prayers are needed for Bp. Carlson..who has an unspeakable task of cleaning up the Saginaw Diocese. "Bp. Ken" should have never been ordained a priest, let alone consecrated a Bishop. As rector he
showed gay porn films to the seminarians. His tenure as bishop consisted of putting a facade of "good preacher" "simple man who lives from rectory to rectory" while at the same time deconstructing and dismantling Catholicism in the Diocese.

Invalid cookie recipes for communion, illicit Masses, removing crucifixes, feminist nuns "preaching", open dissent on homosexuality, birth control ect., no vocations, no support for the pro-life movement, and of course demanding strict obedience that all parishes end the practice of kneeling for the consecration.

As a result..fewer priests, fewer confessions, loss of sacramental grace, and a confused laity.

Bishop Ken was certainly successful in his plan, but the final responsibility rests with Satan, though that will be little comfort to those souls lost to heaven because of such foolishness.

Terry LaForest Lynch

I live in the Saginaw diocese. Bishop Untener was much loved by many but not by all. He was a wonderfully gifted preacher and teacher who chose to use his gifts to remake the Church in his image. The "Saginaw Blessing" with it's referrance to God as "she" horrified and offended me and many others. Complaints were made for years about the multitude of unorthodox practices but those concerns were never given a hearing by the previous Bishop. The heterdox (whether Todd likes that word or not, it's accurate) practices are innummerable and deeply rooted after 20 plus years. It will take a very long time, hopefuly not a generation, to return the Diocese to orthopraxis.
One thing I was pleased to read in the article, was the comment by Rev. Coleman. Bishop Untener was well known for his ecumenical work, especially with Black churches. The (sometimes spoken) assumption was that a "less progressive" Bishop wouldn't be involved in such programs.
As for the lay ministry program under Bishop Untener, the training took 3 years of classes one Saturday a month and , I believe, quarterly retreats. The training was thorough and thoroughly of the We are Church, Call To
Action mindset.
Bishop Carlson is beginning to make some headway. The female head of the Liturgy Office is gone as is the Liturgy Office itself. The head of the local Catholic "university" has also left. To do as complete a renovation as is needed in this case, much must be dismantled before needed new construction can begin. Someday I hope the words "Saginaw Diocese" will inspire the same kind of thoughts as do the words Lincoln or Denver. Please pray for Bishop Carlson and all of us here.

Arthur McGowan

The time I met Untener, at a reception for bishops at my seminary, his face was heavily powdered and rouged, and the eyeliner and that stuff they put on lashes were pretty thick. The lipstick was not too heavy. Creepy.

I respectfully oppose any canonization of JPII, because of the episcopal appointments he made, and the bishops he refused to bust back to floorsweeper.

Kevin Miller

Breier:

The very explicit developed Magisterial position is also that when specified conditions don't exist, cp is not to be used.

You can't simply make that go away. Nor can it be dismissed as not "binding." The Church has made clear that a teaching doesn't have to be definitive or otherwise infallible to be binding. The authentic teaching of the ordinary Magisterium always calls for assent of intellect and will.

Finally, no, the teachings on cp and immigration are not entirely parallel to those on abortion and euthanasia. But they are still teachings that call for assent. And some Catholics have taken positions on those issues that are not plausible prudential applications of the Church's teachings - e.g., by arguing that cp should be used even when, per their own admission, it isn't necessary to protect society from future crimes by the convict.

The new archbishop's point, then, is very well taken, even though he didn't try to address all the nuances of the issues he mentioned.

Kevin Miller

Oh, and by the way, nothing that then-Card. Ratzinger said in '04 contradicts what Tom and I are saying here. Indeed, as Ratzinger said, one could (probably hypothetically) support cp in a narrow range of circumstances without contradicting Catholic teaching - whereas that obviously isn't true of abortion. And furthermore, not all authentic - i.e., binding - teachings are of equal weight. So, for both of those reasons, Ratzinger rightly concluded that just because one has reason to deny Communion to a pro-abortion politician, doesn't mean one has reason to deny Communion to a pro-cp pol.

But that doesn't change the fact that a faithful Catholic must make judgments about if and when to favor cp in light of the Church's authentic teaching (EV and the CCC) regarding when it could, in principle, be used.

Nerina

"...In fact, I believe Saginaw is the only diocese that did allow women to preach,"

Oh, not so. Lay preaching is alive and well and thriving in the Diocese of Rochester, NY - complete with special albs for the preachers and titles of "authorized lay preacher." Most are elderly religious women. Our "authorized lay preacher" is actually quite gifted and I really don't have a problem with her preaching outside of Mass. But what kind of example does she set with her insistence on preaching the homily? This practice clearly violates norms and causes confusion among the faithful. It further blurs the line between the ordained and the laity and in some churches it is a problematic situation.

Jason

I have yet to see a convincing argument that the Holy Father denied the State's right to execute, even in the presence of bloodless means.

The US Bishops admitted as much in their statement of 1980:

Allowing for the fact that Catholic teaching has accepted the principle that the state has the right to take the life of a person guilty of an extremely serious crime, and that the state may take appropriate measures to protect itself and its citizens from grave harm...

http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/criminal/death/uscc80.htm

Note that the right to execute for "an extremely serious crime" is affirmed apart from self-defense.

This is how Catholic theology has traditionally understood the matter, and how Cardinal Dulles presents it in the aformentioned First Things article.

I don't think that there is any reason to read Pope John Paul II as denying this principle. Rather, he urged in strong terms that it be layed aside today, in the spirit of St. Paul's maxim, "Everything is legal for me, but not everything is good".

Jason

(ps: I apologize for indulging the tangent on Capital Punishment. Don't mean to steer the thread away from the links posted.)

Fortiterinre

I continue to be horrified at the basic disappearance (or worse, willful misunderstanding) of the term "prudential judgment." There is simply no way to say that an execution is "necessary for protection" or not WITHOUT making a prudential judgment--about the capacity of the criminal, the vulnerability of society, etc. There is no automatically necessary or unnecessary use of capital punishment--EVERY instance of capital punishment requires this judgment. The debate over "binding teaching" or not is simply facile, because the teaching itself REQUIRES a prudential judgment be made. It might be a WRONG judgment, but it can be wrong without sin. There is no PROHIBITION of capital punishment that requires anything like "faithful assent." Again, for the record, I have to disclose that I am actually very much opposed to capital punishment in every instance. I just don't pretend the Catholic Church requires me to be so.

Rob Sayre

No one paying attention is surprised that Untener was one of the very worst. He deserved a lifetime achievement award from AmChurch, the Lambda Legal Defense Fund and probably from the Demonratic National Committee. He was the epitome of what is disgraceful in AmChurch at the bishop level. It is a pleasure to hear that he was replaced as have many of his pals by an actual Catholic.

John Paul

Fortiterinre (& Amy), Canon law specifies that it is the reading of the Papal letter appointing him bishop in the presence of the College of Consultors that results in him taking cannonical possession of the diocese, which invests him with the office, and therefore his authority. During the ceremony after the letter is read he will sit in his cathedra, not to receive the office, but as an outward sign of his new office.

Can. 382 §1. One promoted as bishop cannot assume the exercise of the office entrusted to him before he has taken canonical possession of the diocese. ...
...
§3. A bishop takes canonical possession of a diocese when he personally or through a proxy has shown the apostolic letter in the same diocese to the college of consultors in the presence of the chancellor of the curia, who records the event.

Tim

My parish in the Rochester NY diocese has a woman lay preacher (the pastoral assistant) even though we have three priests and two deacons. The dodge: it's not called a homily, but a "reflection" on the readings. The celebrant gives about 90 seconds of homily, and then introduces the lay "preacher" for her "reflection." Great lesson for the parishoners: The Church may have rules, but there are ways around them if you're creative enough.

George

Untener’s treatment of orthodox Catholics in his diocese was about as cold-bloodedly authoritarian as one could imagine. One incident in particular brings this out. A number of years ago, some Catholics in the Saginaw area became concerned about letting their children go through the bishop’s program to prepare them for confirmation, a program which taught them little or nothing about the Catholic faith but was designed to indoctrinate them in heresies. So these parents got together and, apparently through someone they knew with connections in Rome, were able to arrange for their children to be confirmed by a Cardinal from Rome who was scheduled to visit the Detroit area. The confirmations were done in the chapel of a cloistered convent there. All went well, and when, a few years later, there was a new group of youngsters needing to be confirmed, a similar arrangement was made. This time, however, the bishop got wind of it, and at the last minute the parents were informed that the whole thing was canceled. The nuns were told that if they allowed the confirmations to take place there, the convent would be closed and the sisters would be scattered among convents around the country.
These Catholics tried to protect their children from heretical catechesis, and were treated like criminals as a result. The nuns who tried to help them were treated even worse.

RP Burke

To settle the death penalty discussion, here is what the catechism says:

2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent."

So, considering that here in the US the death penalty merely changes the date where the convicted criminal dies in jail, we have a nonlethal means at hand and therefore the death penalty is not in keeping with the common good and the dignity of the human person.

How hard is that to understand?

epovick

Arthur McGowan: The time I met Untener, at a reception for bishops at my seminary, his face was heavily powdered and rouged, and the eyeliner and that stuff they put on lashes were pretty thick. The lipstick was not too heavy.

You're joking, right?

Richard

On Niederaurer:

About seventy years ago, the poet T. S. Eliot indicated why many people in our modern world aren’t’ particularly fond of the Church: “She is hard where they would be easy, and easy where they would be hard.” “Hard where they would be easy:” think of abortion and euthanasia; “Easy where they would be hard:” think of capital punishment and immigration law.

I like the Eliot quote. I like the archbishop's appropriation of it. But I don't like the application.

As has been pointed out, abortion and euthanasia are posited by the Magisterium as intrinsic evils. They are always wrong. There are no exceptions.

Immigration and capital punishment: The Church's social teaching does have something to say about these, and it's not always something conservatives like to hear. But the teachings are not moral absolutes. A level of prudence *is* involved. Sorry RP Burke, but the Catechism doesn't quite make the point you wish it to make. Like you I favor the halting of the death penalty in America, but I do because, following the Church's reasoning (and as Steven Long has illustrated so vividly in his Thomist articles - in no small part due to circumstantial considerations.

Nonetheless there *is* a kernel of truth which the good archbishop has in his grasp, because there is no question that there are areas where what he says apply, and it is certainly true that many Catholics are, in fact, more inclined to be hard-hearted in regards to convicted felons or immigrants than the Church would be. The real problem, and it is not a small problem, is that Niederaurer's opposition suggests a doctrinal equivalence between abortion/euthanasia and capital punishment/immigration on the other. And these days, one cannot be too careful in illustrating Church teaching, because there is far too much confusion as it is.

Thus Breier is more or less correct, even if he underestimates the connection involved: "There is no parallel between Church teaching on abortion and euthanasia, and positions on capital punishment and immigration law." There's a parallel of sorts, perhaps, but not the one Niederaurer seemes to suggest. They are apples and oranges in terms of their status in magisterial teaching.

On Carlson:

The preaching "controversy" is one of a number of protocol issues Carlson is bringing back in line with Rome dictates. Other areas of concern include how Communion bread is prepared and when parishioners will kneel and stand during worship services.

Bully for Bishop Carlson.

This is way overdue. Unathorized homilies were one of the worst liturgical abuses under Untener, and that is saying something.

And thus I may take the very strongest exception to Todd's post, which I must say makes me wonder very much about not only hi sgrasp of canon law but, indeed, Catholic Sensibility, as it were. You have a progressive take on things generally, Tod, but honestly: I really, realy have to wonder about you if you really mean to hold up Bishop Untener - Untener! - as a model bishop.

Yes, he *was* a powerful homilest and made an effort to develop these skills in his priests. That is, alas, quite possibly just about his only positive, especially in view of the fact that so much of what was actually preached in his diocese, oratorically well or not, was, in fact, theologically dubious if not outright heterodox. And I don't use that word lightly.

Let us consider your points in turn:

1) I must take exception to some of Fr Stanley's post and a few other comments regarding lay preaching. When Untener was appointed, canons 766 and 767 were widely interpreted to permit the local bishop a prudential leeway in determining if and when lay people could preach at liturgy.

Canon 766 reads as follows: "Can. 766 Lay persons can be permitted to preach in a church or oratory, if necessity requires it in certain circumstances or it seems advantageous in particular cases, according to the prescripts of the conference of bishops and without prejudice to can. 767, §1."

There: "...without prejudice to can. 767, §1." This means that 766 is non-operative when it comes to the matter specified in can. 767 §1. What does Canon 767 say?

"Can. 767 §1. Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is preeminent; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian life are to be explained from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year."

Can. 766 does permit lay preaching in limited circumstances, but not lay preaching of the homily. Untener regularly allowed lay preaching (or that of women in orders) of the homily.

Redemptionis Sacramentum is even more emphatic on this point:

"[64.] The homily, which is given in the course of the celebration of Holy Mass and is a part of the Liturgy itself, “should ordinarily be given by the Priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating Priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to a Deacon, but never to a layperson. In particular cases and for a just cause, the homily may even be given by a Bishop or a Priest who is present at the celebration but cannot concelebrate”."

The USCCB guidelines, which you are doubtless referring to, must be read in this understanding - lay preaching, perhaps, BUT NEVER OF THE HOMILY. NEVER. There was never a loophole to close - though it is certainly likely that Bishop Untener THOUGHT there was.

And by the way - do we know for sure that Untener really ceased allowing lay homilists AFTER Redemptionis Sacramentum?

Local bishops have the right to oversee liturgy,

They do - and they must uphold the teaching of the Church on this. If they do not, they are wounding the body of Christ.

In an earlier age, a bishop like Untener would have been removed with prejudice from his position. Such earlier ages may have been open to criticism in a numbrof ways, but one wishes that in such extreme instances we mimicked them...just a little more on this score.

It will be, as others have observed, decades before the damage done in Sagniaw is undone.

Tim Ferguson

Todd,

Strange that, "When Untener was appointed, canons 766 and 767 were widely interpreted to permit the local bishop a prudential leeway in determining if and when lay people could preach at liturgy." Especially considering that Bishop Untener was appointed three years prior to the 1983 Code (and canons 766 and 767 among them) being promulgated.

I'm from Saginaw. I was a seminarian for Saginaw for four years when Bishop Untener was Bishop (back when there were only two or three seminarians total for the diocese). I left the diocese - home to my family for generations - primarily because of Bishop Untener. Fr. Stanley hits the nail right on the head. I believe Bishop Untener to have been a man who firmly believed that what he was doing was for the good of the Church, but his constant twisting of the law, making barn doors out of loopholes, and certain options into absolutes, ignoring rules and doctrines when they didn't fit into his plan for the diocese and iron-fisted approach to ANY dissent from his views would make the most clericalist of 1940's bishops cringe. I got a taste of it on more than one occasion.

Bishop Carlson is a saint of a man, and deserves a crown already for having undertaken the task of herding the cats of the diocese of Saginaw. He and the people who endured the last 25 years of heterodoxy and heresy have my prayers. I especially hope that the many solid, orthodox laity in the diocese continue to support Bishop Carlson and not get frustrated if the work of reform seems slow at times. Patience is a virtue! I think it's telling to note that already, in his first year in office there, the decline in Church attendance has slowed to only 2%, and he has two young men preparing for ordination next year.

palinurus

The teaching on the death penalty is in fact a prudential one, and it is not the liberal political position of virtual abolition some would like to believe. But even on its own, confused terms, the catechism allows capital punishment. It is rather a commonplace that capital prisoners continue to run their drug empires or kill and threaten witnesses from behind prison walls or kill guards and fellow prisoners, etc., etc. Society has a right, and the Church has ALWAYS agreed it has the right, to protect itself, human dignity or no human dignity.

Further all this quoting of the catechism forgets that there was a much clearer version of this key section (that followed the consistent Church teaching) that was issued, then pulled, then reformulated to take the liberal stance, and then re-issued. Unfortunately, it was, and remains for so many bishops, a political issue, not a doctrinal one. Or maybe they are confusing it with a true doctrinal teaching, like the one on contraception, about which they are virtually silent.

The new formulation on capital punishment has tried to put a phony spin on what had always been the Church's clear teaching on capital punishment -- that it is okay in appropriate circumstances. Not commonplace, not something to be celebrated, but totally legitimate. But even with this recent political spin, the Church avoided saying that capital punishment was "intrinsically wrong." Could have said it. Didn't. Why? Because to do so would have contradicted 2000 years of Church teaching. So we are left with (on this point) a misleading, muddled, political "teaching."

I hate to say this. I wish I could say the catechism was flawless, but when liberal politics entered, fidelity to truth took a powder.


Jack Smith

"'She is hard where they would be easy, and easy where they would be hard.' 'Hard where they would be easy:' think of abortion and euthanasia; 'Easy where they would be hard:' think of capital punishment and immigration law."

I think it has been missed that the Archbishop does not even say what Church teaching is regarding abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment and immigration law, - much less is he suggesting an equivalency of weight between the Church's teaching on these subjects.
All he is doing is observing that the Church is regarded by modern American society as "hard" with regard to the first two and "soft" with regard to the latter.
This is fundamentally a statement of the radically different way in which the Christian views the world versus standard secular categories.
There is no fault in that observation. In fact, it was perfectly pastorally appropriate for his audience - not only the Mayor and other SF politicians, but regular San Franciscans.
He followed that up with another literary and pastorally appropriate statement "I had a lovers quarrel with the world." You won't find many people at odds with the Church in San Francisco who know that they're being challenged by a lover and there aren't enough people aligned with Church teaching who fully appreciate it.

anonymouse

But he followed that reference to "I had a lover's quarrel with the world" with a claim that God had a lover's quarrel with us.

I don't understand that. God is so great that he'd be as great with or without us. To put us on the same footing, to state not that WE are in quarrel with Him/His teachings, but HE is quarreling with us seems profoundly misleading. We aren't being challenged by a lover in any human sense of the word--we aren't being challenged by an equal. We aren't being challenged by someone who is OF this world.

It sounds as if he is saying that God gets jealous, angry, petulant. That is NOT what the catechism says the Christian God is. And worse--if you view Him as having a lover's quarrel with us, you could view Him as incorrect, rather than it being US who need to change.

Fortiterinre

Since the death penalty takes up a good portion of this thread, I would throw in that an even bigger concern I have about this regular misunderstanding of a Church prohibition of capital punishment is the theological world this creates. The Church does not become the guardian of truth, guarding what is firmly established, but the government bureaucracy hotline that responds to every issue of every day in a spinmaster type of way. The Church becomes a "policy institute" responding to every detail of social and political life, if only to issue an ambiguous and unhelpful statement, just to make sure that no area of life escapes ecclesiastical comment. It's very sad, a crisis when "back-to-basics" is so desperately needed.

janen7

I'm amazed how many people are familiar with the Saginaw diocese. I keep checking the names to see if I recognize anyone.

An added point - one of Bishop Carlson's first edicts was to ban the "Saginaw blessing" which (at least at the Cathedral) was sung at the end of each Mass. The fact that they continue to sing it by "making a barn door out of a loophole" - singing it as an RCIA blessing rather than an end-of-Mass blessing- shows us that the people have learned well from Bishop Untener.

Fr. Brian Stanley

Todd, in citing the two canons concerning preaching, neatly skirts the issue I raised, to wit: what are other dioceses doing and why isn't the diocese of Saginaw complying with the rest of the Church? The bottom line is that those canons, along with the appropriate instructions in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, have an accepted interpretation that was and is generally known. Todd points out that the Curia had to give a further instruction a few years ago, and he would leave it there. The reason the Curia had to clarify further was because of abuses such as found in Saginaw during Bishop Untener's episcopate. The novelty was introduced without concern or regard for the practice of the rest of the Universal Church. Bishop Untener had many gifts, to be sure. The desire to think with the Church, sentire cum ecclesia, was not one of them. And so there are many lay ministers in Saginaw [and evidently elsewhere] who are mightily confused, and no doubt feel abandoned now that Bishop Untener has passed away. But he led them down a particular path which is a theological dead end, and it is now Bishop Carlson's mission to lead them out of this cul-de-sac.

My take on these matters needs context. I am commenting as a Catholic pastor in rural Michigan, familiar with the situation in the neighboring dioceses. I have no particular specialized degree beyond the twelve years I spent in priestly formation at a certain university in South Bend, Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. I've had a varied theological training, and am familiar with the entire spectrum in liturgy, etc. When I read canon law, it's as a pastor, with this idea in mind: sentire cum ecclesia. I want to think with the Church. In my opinion, Bishop Untener read canon law with this idea in mind: ego sum ecclesiam.

Todd is a pastoral minister, but he should reveal a bit more of his background, so that other commenters and readers can appreciate his perspective, which is not without its merits.

John

Todd is back with his shoe-box full of pet heresies, the local representative of AmChurch pedling damaged goods and various ripp-off imitations of Magisterial teachings.

There is probably a special place in after-life for teachers of false dogmas. Please review your Dante for the details.

St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse

John,

My scriptures don't include Dante. Is this a recent addition to the canon?

Richard

Hello Fr. Stanley,

Great post.

But he led them down a particular path which is a theological dead end, and it is now Bishop Carlson's mission to lead them out of this cul-de-sac.

I fear Bishop Untener led the entire diocese to a theological dead end.

People's Exhibit #1: Ask how many vocations Saginaw produced during his tenure.

That's nearly a foolproof measure of the spiritual vitality of Catholic community.

Bishop Carlson is, I hear, moving aggressively and innovatively on the vocations and seminary training front, and in ways I find very encouraging indeed. But that's all I'll say for now. In the meanwhile: pray for him. He needs all the help he can get.

Jim

"The corollary to this problem, of course, is the ingrained notion of ministry more as privilege and less as service."

Which is why it should not be a problem to relieve a priest of his ministry until he is cleared of a credible charge of sexual abuse. The ministry does not belong to the priest. He is privileged, not entitled, to exercise it.

Mary

Fortiterinre:

Amy was right. The spelling is "lede," not your correction to "lead."

J.Jorgensen

"Bishop Calvo will be "the diocese's seventh bishop and the first with an ethnic background."

What does that mean? Don't we all have an "ethnic" background? The term must be code, but for what? "
Concerning the above quote..question?

Bishop Calvo grew up on Guam. His ordination has been a major story here on the island.


Caroline

I gather that the only competency to preach at Mass comes through orders and not through talent and that God calls through orders and eschews the talents, which He has also given, for use in this purpose, although he allows them to be used for preaching, hardly distinguishable from teaching, in other situations.

I do not think that the best way to deliver a homily is to read it verbatim, but this too is done. Now, if I, a lay person, wrote a homily for a priest and he delivered it exactly as I, the lay person, wrote it, would this be an abuse and a violation of his role as an ordained person? Am I allowed to ghost write a homily even as a lay person? Conversely, if the priest wrote the homily and I, the lay person, delivered it verbatim, would this be a violation of the clergy/lay distinction? Would his words coming from my lay mouth lack something, and, if so, what?

I certainly understand the necessity of ordination to validly confect the Eucharist. What I wonder about is if we are putting preaching at Mass into the same category as confecting the Eucharist when it comes to priestly ordination.

I would also suggest that there is a very thin line between the preaching of the priest and the interpretative reading of Scripture by the lay lector. A good lector preaches willy nilly as he/she proclaims the Scripture. A good lector interprets with vocal techniques his or her understanding of what he or she is reading. And if he doesn't interpret, he might as well read the want ads.

I come back to my original point. Is our concern with authorship of the homily or with the delivering of the homily? Is the truth that the priest must deliver the homily no matter who authors it because only ordination can make the homily authoritative?

Just seeking enlightenment here.

Tim Ferguson

Caroline raises some interesting points. Looked at in a purely pragmatic way, there's certainly no logical reason why preaching at Mass should be reserved to a particular class of people, especially if others in that class have skills that would enable them to do a better job. The grace of orders does not confer upon anyone the skills to be an effective preacher.

Yet, the Church does not approach this subject pragmatically, nor should she. The homily at Mass is essentially tied to the action of the priest. Just as Jesus took the bread, broke it and gave His Body to His disciples, the priest, acting in Christ's person, takes the bread, breaks it and gives the Eucharist to the people. Just as Christ came down from the mountain and shared the meaning of the parables with his disciples, the priest breaks open the Word of God for the assembled faithful. Preaching is a symbolic act. Yes, it also has a goal, and an end - enlightening the faithful, giving them direction and wisdom - and that end might possibly be better achieved by those with obvious talents in teaching, enlightening, explaining. But that end alone is not the only, or (I would argue) the primary goal of the homily. It's an exercise of the teaching office of the Church, the teaching aspect of the priesthood.

I had a discussion some years back with some friends over this issue (we had a nun preaching the homily in our parish at that time). One friend was opposed to it, the other friend saw nothing wrong, and argued along the lines Caroline lays out: Sister does a better job than many of the priests, why shouldn't she be allowed to do it? As it happened, that friend and his wife had been trying for three years to get pregnant, unsuccessfully up to that point. My other friend, who was opposed to the nun giving the homily, made the crass, but pertinent comment, "I could probably do a better job of getting your wife pregnant, but that doesn't mean that it's right for me to do so."

If the priest (or bishop or deacon) solicits the help of talented laity in the preparation of his homily, wonderful! If he goes so far as to have someone else with the talent write the homily up for him, fine. The preaching of the homily, though, devolves upon him. It is his task, and his function.

We lay folk have enough opportunities to preach - to our co-workers, families, friends; through our words, and actions; in formal settings (retreats, parish missions, wakes) and casual ones. Let's leave Father's 15 minutes on Sunday in his hands, and pray for him, especially if he's a poor preacher.

Nerina

Amen, Tim.

As I noted, our lay preacher is quite gifted. But the Church has established guidelines. As a married woman, I must follow some pretty strict rules regarding NFP, and though I struggle with them, I OBEY. I can appreciate that some women feel "called" to preach. They have opportunities to do just that. I question why they are so intent on hijacking the homily? Again, the lines are blurred between the laity and the ordained and I personally think this is just what some lay preachers hope for.

Jason

Is the truth that the priest must deliver the homily no matter who authors it because only ordination can make the homily authoritative?

I think that preaching in Mass is the role of the ordained because they do not act on their own authority, but are the "extended arms", so to speak, of the Bishop. Their preaching, I guess, is in some sense an extension of the Bishop's Magisterium.

Fast 75

"Conversely, if the priest wrote the homily and I, the lay person, delivered it verbatim, would this be a violation of the clergy/lay distinction? Would his words coming from my lay mouth lack something, and, if so, what?"

I want a chance to preach just like the modernist nuns and "lay professionals." My homily might begin like this:

"Why is it that everyone of you will get up to receive Holy Communion, your soul in a supposed state of grace, yet the last eight times I have been to Saturday afternoon confession, not one of you, not a single one of you, has been there with me. Either this is the most saintly group of Catholics to ever walk God's green earth, or I am in the midst of the most blasphemous, apostate, sacriligious pretenders imaginable. And since I live and work with you and know you, any upcoming canonizations aren't likely. So you better change your ways, or you are going spend eternity burning in the fires of hell."

Fortiterinre

Mary wrote:

Fortiterinre:

Amy was right. The spelling is "lede," not your correction to "lead."

Thank you, Mary! I laughed at the truth of the last line of "lede" from about.com:

"Definition: The lede is the first paragraph of a news story that describes the who, what, where, when, why and how. In a feature story it serves the same purpose, but is written in a narrative line. Lede is pronounced like the word "lead" and is often spelled that way by accident."

Yes. Yes it is!

Michael Hugo

Jeff,

Is that right? I thought Deacons were ordained? Wow. I should know this. What is the story with Deacons and consecration?

Michael Hugo

Dr. J,

"The "intelligent design" ploy is alienating so many who would otherwise be sympathetic to the Church."

The ID issue aside, who are these people that you think would be "otherwise be sympathetic to the Church"? And the the way to their heart is by waxing poetical?

Sorry, but I'm having a hard time imagining this overlooked demographic.

Fr. Brian Stanley

Deacons are ordained, just not ordained as priests, so they cannot preside or concelebrate at Mass -- they cannot confect the Eucharist. I'm sure that is what Jeff meant.

JenB

Richard-
Not only vocations, but in my view, people who attend Mass.

My extended family was raised in the Saginaw, Lansing and Grand Rapids Dioceses. Ours was raised in the Lansing diocese, and my cousins in a wonderful parish in Grand Rapids: all of us stayed in the Church and are very involved and love being Catholics. Nearly ALL of our cousins raised in the Saginaw diocese for the past 30 years-none of them attend Church anymore, save one cousin and her children. -that would be at least 12 cousins and their own families who do not attend Church and some are even hostile towards the Church.

I can't praise God enough for sending Carlson there. I'm glad he's ruffling feathers. Good. Get them out of the chancery. Maybe some of my cousins children will return to the Church.

john

Fast75,

Are you kidding me?!?! Look, I'm not for lay preaching either, but this latest post was poor:

"Why is it that everyone of you will get up to receive Holy Communion, your soul in a supposed state of grace, yet the last eight times I have been to Saturday afternoon confession, not one of you, not a single one of you, has been there with me. Either this is the most saintly group of Catholics to ever walk God's green earth, or I am in the midst of the most blasphemous, apostate, sacriligious pretenders imaginable. And since I live and work with you and know you, any upcoming canonizations aren't likely. So you better change your ways, or you are going spend eternity burning in the fires of hell."

Seriously...do you honestly sit there while you're waiting to go up for communion wondering who is validly receiving and who is not?!?! That might be the first sign of a problem. There are plenty of people and groups in the Church that irk me too, but that rant was presumptuous and venemous.

How about worrying less about who is there with you on Saturday morning and worrying more about your anger? How about praying for these folks to find deeper truth before damnation, instead of licking your chops to see them burn?

"He to whom much is given, much is expected." You may be "in the right," but with pride like that it might not mean much.

--john

PS - Here's praying for an honest New Evangelization within the Church, and less of this "burn the liberals" kind of garbage. Orthodoxy itself is not a guarantee of sanctity.

Liam

Catholic practice of going to confession Rule #1: you are not to notice who is or isn't there. Even I learned that almost 40 years ago. It's a prudential rule, to focus you solely on the logs in your own eye, to follow the Lord's injunction.

Also, I don't confess where I worship (logistical issues). I confess either in my territorial parish or at an oratory near work; in both places, the confession times are full of penitents.

mulopwepaul

"Orthodoxy itself is not a guarantee of sanctity.

No, but heterodoxy is a positive indicator of its absence, hard as that may be to swallow.

PVO

john

"No, but heterodoxy is a positive indicator of its absence, hard as that may be to swallow."

Who said that was hard to swallow? I agree that part of being holy is submitting to the authority of the Church.

By the way...the absence of charity is in itself heterodoxy, in action if not in speech.

--john

Richard

Hello guys,

I never mind what the other fellow does, but I think it's hard to deny that the sacrament of penance has largely fallen into desuetude in much of American Catholicism.

If it is for anyone to notice, it's the parish priest. Who then can take steps - hitting on it in the homilies, in RCIA, in catechesis, and so on - to start re-educating his flock.

john

Richard,

Agreed, and much needs to be done.

--john

Fortiterinre

The irony is that I have never seen a Saturday afternoon confession slot less than full, literally a dozen people in line the whole time, and yet I still hear priests complain that no one comes to confession. I suspect a good number of these penitents are regulars, so I can accept that no one NEW comes often, but it is clear to me that the need is current based on the lines I see right now.

mulopwepaul

"By the way...the absence of charity is in itself heterodoxy, in action if not in speech."

The guilty man fleeth where no man pursueth.

PVO

Fr. Brian Stanley

What's "PVO"?

john

"The guilty man fleeth where no man pursueth."

I'm not sure I follow you. Care to elaborate?

--john

mulopwepaul

""The guilty man fleeth where no man pursueth."

I'm not sure I follow you. Care to elaborate?"

Those who are attempting to strangle their consciences will not usually welcome opportunities to explain what they're doing--they may even label such questioning as "uncharitable," or otherwise impugning the motives of the questioner rather than examining the actions in question.

Attempting to brand people as uncharitable is often merely an attempt to change the subject to the sins of others.

PVO

Tom Haessler

The notion that heterodoxy is incompatible with orthopraxis seems to be contradicted by the teaching of the Church about the possibility of justification and sanctification of those outside the visible boundaries of the Church of Christ. All those adhere to some "material" heresies without it necessarily meaning that they're in the state of mortal sin.

mulopwepaul

The possibility of salvation exists outside the visible Church, but this does not licence conscious rejection of Church teachings.

Heterodoxy is not a useful adjective to describe pagans who have never heard of the teachings of the Church.

If ignorance were preferrable to knowledge of the Church's teachings, then preaching would be the greatest disservice imaginable.

If preachers are inadequate to teach in a way which the ignorant can hear, then God's mercy may yet save the ignorant, but those who know the teachings of God's Church AND know that it IS God's Church which teaches bring terrible judgment upon themselves when they reject these teachings.

PVO

john

PVO,

:::chuckle::: Ok, let's back up here. I think you're missing my point.

"they may even label such questioning as "uncharitable," or otherwise impugning the motives of the questioner rather than examining the actions in question."
First, I did examine the "actions in question" several times. The actions in question - lay men and women preaching at liturgy. My position - I don't agree with it. My corrolary position - I don't agree with Fast75's pretend pulpit rant either.

"Attempting to brand people as uncharitable is often merely an attempt to change the subject to the sins of others."
A very well worded platitude as always, my friend, but it has little basis in fact in this context. Again, I have no desire to change the subject. The first subject - lay people preaching at mass. My position - I don't agree with it, never have.

The second subject - Fast 75's pretend pulpit rant. My position - Questioning people's sanctity based on their attendance at Saturday confession with no knowledge of their situation (e.g. whether they have a personal confessor, etc) is not, in my mind, charitable. So, I don't agree with that either.

Please keep in mind that I believe in full submission of intellect and will to the Magisterium. I strive for orthodoxy. I'm not some angry lay man wishing I could preach at mass. But being orthodox and "sentire cum ecclesia" does not mean I have no right to question Fast75's motives just because his doctrinal position is right. Orthodox theology can be used as a pretext for sin...I've seen it, I've done it, I've confessed it. I don't want Fast75 or anyone to fall into it.

So, dear PVO, I am not attempting to deflect the conversation onto Fast75's motives. I agree with Fast75 (and presumably yourself) that lay men and women should obey Canon Law and the full Magisterium and not preach at liturgy. At the same time, I do not agree that Fast75's pretend rant was chariatble.

Thanks for your concern for the wholeness of my soul. Please commend me in your prayers to the mercy of Our Lord and the intercession of Our Lady.

--john

mulopwepaul

I agree that Fast75's proposed sermon would in fact be intemperate if it were actually delivered as he wrote it, but, as a thought experiment, I also think it is true that--like Flannery O'Connor said--sometimes you must write in exaggerated grotesques so that the myopic can see them at all.

PVO

john

"sometimes you must write in exaggerated grotesques so that the myopic can see them at all"

Fair enough. Weblogs are nothing if not a scratchpad for the joys and frustrations of ecclesial life.

nina

plz cn u tell me what a bishops hats called

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