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May 15, 2006

Comments

Jon

We hear not just what is going on in America but what the Holy Father teaches.

It is quite obvious that a broad segment of the US Episcopacy [the majority?] are not on the same wavelength with him.

Watch closely liturgical developments and the size and intensity of the opposition to reform of the post-V II deformations at the June meeting of the bishops.

A formal schism on the left is becoming a possibility with the passage of time. Theological deviance feeds off deviances in the secular culture. Lack of a vigorous Episcopal opposition to the DVC book and film is evidence that such opposition in fact does not exist.

Mitchell Hadley

Thanks for the link, Amy!

Jon - you're quite right. Perhaps the most important aspect of this is the ability of the average Catholic, through the Internet and resources such as EWTN, to see and hear the Holy Father directly, without interpretation from the media, and hear the straight teaching. If it's one thing to compare your local bishop with one in another diocese, it's quite another to compare him with the Pope, and find your bishop lacking...

Father Ethan

I have to disagree with Jon. I see no formal schism from left happening anytime soon. The majority of the vocations we have today are "JP II vocations" and today we have a new generation of "Benedict Vocations" that will be more traditional in areas such as liturgy.

I remember when I went to the seminary for the first time in 1994 and I was not happy. The numbers of "JP II vocations" was way down in that seminary. Since then, however, the seminary closed and very few students lasted long enough to be ordained.

John Paul the Great made it very clear that the health of any diocese is the number of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life it has. My prediction is that some dioceses will be supressed in the next ten years.

chris K

Readers may like to go to Dom's blog and scroll down to his post on this matter. There is, of late, another member of St. Agnes:

Dom et al.,

I have not posted here in a LONNNNNGGGG time, however, as some may remember, I am a close friend to Msgr. Schuler, Fr. Altier, and the parish of St. Agnes.

I can speak to a couple of the things that have been posited here.

who relates the situation from a rather close up and personal view. That view involves the reality of conservative, yes, but "company" or "close to the bishop" style men in the parish replacements....and that probably the TAT VIRTUS program (the one Fr. Altier spoke so truthfully to) will eventually now be merged into the parish.

This is another view that should be taken into consideration, not forgetting what is truly happening in the vocation of Fr. Altier, and trying, apparently, to not just smooth things over with some world view of "that's just how things happen in the life of any diocese". Remember, while we use the background of EWTN giving us a "being there" oversight for our better grasp of things for truthful analysis, a very powerful cardinal tried his best to abolish that kind of EWTN and attempt a takeover and a takeaway from its founder and leader who also could not just sit back and allow the faithful to be taught error.

Tim Ferguson

Chris,

Though Fr. Ubel has worked closely with the "authorities" in the archdiocese, I don't think it's fair to label him a "company man" - he's a person of great faith and a strong priest. I first met him when he was in the seminary and he was a good friend to Fr. Altier and one of those seminarians who associated with St. Agnes at a time when it was very dangerous to do so in the seminary. Fr. John will make a great pastor for St. Agnes, and has the youthful energy to carry it well into the future. As for Fr. Kasel, I don't know him personally, but the fact that he was recently ordained from St. Agnes and is now returning to his home parish does not seem to indicate that he's a "company man" at all either.
It would have been awkward for Fr. Ubel, a close friend and former classmate of Fr. Altier's to be Fr. Altier's pastor. I think Fr. Welzbacher's stated reasons for wanting to move out of St. Agnes should be taken at face value (if ever there was a person without guile it would be the often vocally imitated, but personally unique Fr. Welzbacher). The parish he's going to is a parish he used to do weekend work at when he was a college professor, and it's a solid, orthodox little gem of a parish, not too far from St. Agnes, so it's not as though he's being exiled.

As for Fr. Altier, it may well be an exile of sorts, but knowing him, he will find a way to thrive in it - or actually because of it. His strong Carmelite spirituality and the virtue of obedience means that accepting this assignment without a whimper of protest will bring him great graces. I wouldn't be surprised to hear, within weeks, if Fr. Altier hasn't so enflamed the hearts of the residents of the nursing home that they themselves become instruments of grace in the lives of their families.

Todd

"A formal schism on the left is becoming a possibility with the passage of time."

Wishful thinking. The only formal schism of any appreciable size has been on the right, and that maintains itself at the level of hierarchy (or pseudo-hierarchy, in the case of the various anti-popes). Liberals lack respect (supposedly) for leaders, so who's going to lead us away?

Mr Hadley betrays another wishful stance: that some authority higher than a bishop is going to come in and clean house for them. That's just not going to happen in a Roman Church, not unless something catastrophic happens, and sorry, but insubordination probably isn't seen as anything more than a problem for the local bishop.

The various differences in bishops? It's amatter of personal style, good (or bad) taste, and local apostolates. Maybe those inclined to think scandal every time they see vestments or altarware at variance, should reconsider. The essentials of the faith remain a constant. Lots of things some might consider "orthodoxy" are just optional.

PS Was Hadley's reference to "othordoxy" intentional?

Ray from MN

As someone who knows a fair number of people who are of the "left persuasion" and who has discovered that most of them no longer want to talk to me as I have found myself shifting rightwards towards the Magisterium, I see no possibility of a schism.

I belong to a large parish in Minneapolis where liberals dominate and where their theology is dominated by the Social Gospel, by Diversity and by the Peace Movement and their Liturgies are full of smells and bells , beautiful music in a beautiful structure and homilies that don't demand too much.

Jesus is not their personal Savior. They are too busy organizing and campaigning for their tangible, material "Issues" to think about things like that.

Rich Leonardi

Leave it to St. Blog's resident pelvic dissident to lisp his way into a conversation once his precious little revolution is threatened. Enjoy Bishop Finn, Todd. My sense is that he knows what to do with the likes of you.

chris K

Tim,

I was only offering a view from someone who, while being a friend to the parish, also seems to know the personalities more closely. Being a young pastor and able to lead a parish "well into the future" does not speak to the opinion of this person that those who defer to a close friendship to Flynn, will most likely lead to the parish eventually accepting that horrible program for children. Will the new pastor be able to keep up the fight to keep programs of the bishop that are harmful to children out of the parish or fear being exiled too? Isn't that the crux of the situation here? The nice compromising "care" shown for Fr. Altier in this, face it, cut off from the universal contact with people who now have nothing due to his faithful teachings being eliminated, lacks convincing involvment in the questions at hand. It certainly was not necessary...or you would have to say that Fr's teaching throughout all the time that it was permitted to be universally preached was being objected to. It obviously was not...until...he began informing parents about their rights as well as speaking to the Catechism itself as being defied by the local Church authorities in such a program forced on the innocent.

I doubt if Fr. Altier has been personally reduced to putting happy faces on his car on the way to his new but very limiting assignment. He is merely being obedient under very tough conditions that limit his talents. Rather, I believe that he was doing just what Pope JPII had tried to get so many dioceses and priests to do...use modern technology and modes of communication to preach the real Gospel to the whole world. Unfortunately a light has been snuffed out in the darkness of a world more involved with mass communication tearing down Christ's true Identity, refuting true gospels, and teaching on Catholic campuses and parishes perversions.

I wouldn't be surprised to hear, within weeks, if Fr. Altier hasn't so enflamed the hearts of the residents of the nursing home that they themselves become instruments of grace in the lives of their families.

I would be surprised if that would not be the case...for those still able to communicate. But for those families not wishing to hear stronger truths about the need for the sacraments, especially confession, or the evil influences of so much of what their children have to deal with, or the strict adherence to avoiding even the easiest compromise these days that go against the teachings of the Church, it won't matter where Fr. Altier goes, he is bound to irritate the consciences of the weak and already compromised.

BTW, just what were Fr. Welzbacher's "stated reasons" for leaving? Do you know? I understand that he requested the move, but I've only read the opinion of others that it was due to his health. This other commenter stated that it was due to his not wanting to deal with any more controversy, not his health. If this statement is wrong and the health is the reason, then why not HIS assignment to the nursing home instead of another parish and Fr. A, being the vigorous priest he is, not to another parish?? Some things just can't be swept under the rug without closer scrutiny. That, as we all know, happened a lot before and caused other scandals.

Tim Ferguson

Fr. Welzbacher, in a letter to parishioners and in statements to a mutual friend, stated that his reasons for leaving are his age and his health - he no longer felt up to the considerable challenges St. Agnes faces. Those challenges aren't something arcane or mysterious - St. Agnes is a large parish with a lot going on - one of the few parishes with it's own K-12 school system. It's taxing and demanding on any pastor, and it's understandable that Fr. Welzbacher, nearing the Autumn of his life, would want something a bit more relaxing.

Why not put him in a nursing home and Fr. Altier in a parish? Well, for one thing, Fr. Welzbacher has experience as a pastor, Fr. Altier does not. In this time of a priest shortage, we're used to all priests being made pastors - that's not necessarily the case. Just because one is called to the priesthood does not necessarily make one apt to manage the affairs of parish.

I don't think this needs closer scrutiny. Yes, we need to hold our bishops accountable. No, they do not need to answer to us for every decision they make. Fr. Altier took a promise of obedience to Archbishop Roach and his successors. His successor has decided to make him assistant chaplain at a nursing home. People in nursing homes need pastoral care, Fr. Altier is able to provide it. The assignment will bring Fr. Altier closer to God.

Would you, or I, or Bishop Bruskewitz or St. Charles Borromeo have done things differently? Likely, yes. Does that mean that Archbishop Flynn is a raving radical and should be castigated for his decision? I certainly hope not.

reluctant penitent

A schism on the left is unnecessary—there are plenty of liberal denominations to join. Yet most liberal Catholics have not become Episcopalians, even though they would find all of their professed needs fulfilled in the church of the gay old times. And, as liberals, they cannot possibly believe that only Catholics have access to THE TRUTH. But then again they may believe it after all. Maybe they hope that their false beliefs can become true by Papal decree. In that case they ascribe to the Pope a power that only voluntarists would ascribe to God, namely the power to turn falsehood into truth.

Jon

I hope Fr. Ethan is right. However, the US Episcopal conference has well over a score of Bishops who are in de facto schism. The new appointments since Cardinal Levada was elevated to head the CDF are not truly promising. Even the new, orthodox appointments like Bp. Finn are unable to implement accross the board liturgical reforms. [He is trying, God bless him, but mostly he is getting poor or no cooperation from his priests.]

Without liturgical reform soon the erosion in faith will accelerate and whole dioceses can close shop. On the other hand if the Holy See gives the go ahead for true reforms and the likes of LA stonewall again, as on the seminary admission standards, what is that if not formal schism?

Mitchell Hadley

Todd,

Mr Hadley betrays another wishful stance: that some authority higher than a bishop is going to come in and clean house for them. That's just not going to happen in a Roman Church, not unless something catastrophic happens, and sorry, but insubordination probably isn't seen as anything more than a problem for the local bishop.

In fact, Todd, I harbor no illusions about that. In asking the question as to how the Church is going to address the various issues it faces, I did not presuppose that I knew the answers. In looking at the challenge, a logical question would be whether or not increased supervision by the Vatican would be one possibility, but I do not assume that this will happen - I think this to be an unlikely prospect. One could hope that it would, but hope and faith are two different things.

So just to answer your question, I'm a little too old to be a bright-eyed optimist. I agree with Fr. Ethan that there are many excellent young priests coming up. I am more optimistic than some about the future of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. But when I converted to Catholicism several years ago, I did so with somewhat the same feeling that Whittaker Chambers had when breaking with the Communist Party. I wouldn't presume to speak for Chambers, but despite more than a few aggrivations, I have had no regrets about my decision.

Mitchell Hadley

P.S. - in answer to Todd's question about the spelling of "othordoxy," I can only reply that I've always said I can type 92 wpm - however, I never said I spelled them all correctly! :-)

anon

Rich-

When are you going to stop your Todd trolling? It's really un-becoming of a man of your stature in St. Blog's. I am shocked by it!

JP

The late Bishop Fulton Sheen was treated similiarly to Fr Alter. Bishop Sheen spent nearly a decade in Europe dazzeling the professors at the Louvaine, the Vatican, and Great Britain. He was in his element, and fully expected to be posted to a university position either in Europe or the U.S.

Instead, he received a summons by his Bishop to return to Peoria. His Bishop didn't assgin him to the Chancery, or the minor seminary in Period, but to one of the most troublesome parishes in the dioceses. The parish was on the wrong side of the tracks; its families were mainly lower working class families. Spouse abuse, alcholism, low mass attendence, etc... plagued this parish.

The Bishop wasn't jealous of his young priest; he didn't want to break him or teach him a lesson. This "lowly assignment" was a test to see how obedient Sheen was. How would he react? He would attend to his duties like a good priest would? How pastoral would Sheen be. Sheen passed with flying colors.

Prehaps, Atler's assginment is just that -a test in obeidience.

Todd

Mitchell, thanks for the reply and clarification. I thought your own blog indeed presented a nuanced and charitable view on what is often a trying situation (namely, the assignment of new clergy) for parishioners even in the best of circumstances.

Perhaps my comment about Roman authority was intended more for St Blog's conservatives who expect an American style of administration from their Catholic Church. A little reading and study on church history and ecclesiology is sometimes warranted, if for no other reason than to avoid getting one's hopes falsely inflated.

PS I thought "othordoxy" an apt term for some self-styled "orthodox." I'll need to remember it.

chris K

Why not put him in a nursing home and Fr. Altier in a parish? Well, for one thing, Fr. Welzbacher has experience as a pastor, Fr. Altier does not. In this time of a priest shortage, we're used to all priests being made pastors - that's not necessarily the case. Just because one is called to the priesthood does not necessarily make one apt to manage the affairs of parish.

Puhleeez! You just spoke to Fr. W's bad health, desire for less stress. Fr. A has been at St. Agnes for something like 14 or 15 years. If the pastor has not been that energetic then Fr. A has been using his energy for an awful lot of assistance to such a pastor and carrying the parish. The people know him, are fond of him, trust him. Any other circumstance like this would result in a pastorship for such a man (whether here or elsewhere)...unless, he himself requested the change. And these rather condescending statements of assurance that Fr. Altier will "become a holier priest" due to this assignment. Already, there appears to be a rather discriminating assessment of this priest as something less than he is; one that goes along with an adherence to the weakness of an archbishop. Not a good argument for such an ecclesial decision.

And frankly, I don't really understand where Mitchell stands himself. He goes on quite extensively about all of the ways the archbishop himself has been weak and disobedient to the teachings of the magisterium,

I was talking with a friend the other day, a man who has some knowledge of the workings of the archdiocese although he doesn't currently work within the administration. It was his opinion that Fr. Altier had just pushed the Virtus issue too far, to the point where it was practically a personal attack on the archbishop, who had to do something about it to maintain his authority."

"So it wasn't a case of what he said as much as how he said it?" I asked. He nodded.

"Well, yeah," he replied. "It's all about putting yourself in opposition to the archbishop. Old Harry was pretty patient about the whole thing. His attitude is that you can do what you want, as long as you don't attract attention." The pastoral change at St. Joan of Arc, for example, came because they had become so public about their "unique" ways that it was attracting too much attention. HAD THEY KEPT IT TO THEMSELVES WITHOUT ROCKING THE BOAT, NOTHING MIGHT HAVE HAPPENED. (my caps emphasis)

(skip)

"The archbishop doesn't much like conflict, does he?" I asked.

He shook his head. "Basically he'd just like to get to retirement without anything else happening."

(skip)

The perception is that Archbishop Flynn is reluctant to discipline those of the "liberal" bent while quite willing to come down on "conservatives." (I put those in quotes because I, like many, feel the terms "liberal" and "conservative" are more political than theological.) There's the heresy at St. Joan of Arc, members of Rainbow Sash receiving communion, priests publically opposing the archbishop's call for a state amendment against homosexual marriage, his own diocesean newspaper supporting Notre Dame's staging of The Vagina Monologues, possible sex scandals being covered up. (See here, here, here, here and here for more.) Add to that the arrogance with which he often appears to deal with those who disagree with him (as in this example), and you get a real sense of distrust between the archdiocese and some of its people.

but feels that THIS decision by Flynn "was a good one"...only because the replacements seem also to be conservative and good priests? Therefore, didn't Fr. Altier lay the groundwork HIMSELF to have himself replaced by conservative as well as "good and holy" men?? The only wee difference in the future may be that THESE "good and holy" men might just not speak out in protection of the innocent! So, then, just who are the "holiest" of men here??

Well, in times past I suppose there is precedent for this "better that one might suffer, etc..." kind of hypocrisy.

Yes, in God's end, truth may will out, but that doesn't give rationale for sin to continue.

Tim Ferguson

I've known Fr. Altier for a quarter of a century now, and can assure you that he would not think speaking of his growing in holiness as being condescending in any way shape or form. The virtue of obedience (something I can honestly say I learned a great deal about through my acquaintance with Fr. Altier, especially when he was going through the worst that the St. Paul Seminary had to offer in the 80's) is precisely that, a virtue - it doesn't pay to be obedient when one agrees with the decision of a superior. It's a strength gained when one willingly puts one's life in another's hands and trusts that authority - in this case, that apostolic authority - to be guided by the Holy Spirit. This is what Fr. Altier has done. This is why this new assignment will be a considerable blessing to him.

I know of no other situations where the associate pastor, especially an associate of many years, is made pastor when the pastor moves or retires. Had that been the case, then why was it not horrible when Fr. Welzbacher was made pastor, instead of Fr. Altier, the associate at the time, or Fr. Ince, his predecessor? Making associate pastors into pastors in the selfsame parish they serve in as associates would tend to parochialize the Church further - remember, priests are ordained to the diocese, not to the particular parish.

Tim Ferguson

and yes, Fr. Ubel - a classmate and good friend of Fr. Altier - and Fr. Kasel, a young priest who learned much of what he knows about priesthood from his close association with Fr. Welzbacher, Fr. Schuler and the rest of the "St. Agnes crowd" might "not speak out in protection of the innocent." - there's always that possibility. However, the chances of that being the case are approximately the same as Pope Benedict deciding to become Muslim, Hillary Clinton picketing an abortion clinic or our beloved blogmistress deciding that Jesus really DID marry Mary Magdalen after all. In short - it's not gonna happen, and making baseless accusations of "it might..." shows a tendency toward paranoia and, according to the classical definition, provides for a clear case of scandal.

chris K

I've known Fr. Altier for a quarter of a century now, and can assure you that he would not think speaking of his growing in holiness as being condescending in any way shape or form.

Well, yes, Fr. Altier SHOULD be the one to assess his own degree of holiness and, comfortably or not, put up with the objective statements about others in similar situations as his...but others should not presume to use this unfortunate situation as one to do the assessing themselves. Does one imply that one believes that Father needed this move for such advancement in virtue? Just because Bishop Sheen or P. Pio, due to their obedience (BTW, P. Pio did allow for a friend to go and speak in his behalf to the Holy See...wasn't his idea, but it happened) won out over evil against them, that evil, if it had not been done, would most likely not have resulted in some believing evil misinformation and being disillusioned at the time. God doesn't will the evil decisions, but permits them due to our free will. It certainly doesn't give a continual free pass for such decisions, but rather, that, in time or eternity, they will have to be atoned for by those weak persons in positions of influence and guidance over the faithful.

Also, Tim, you'll notice that I said any other priest of the caliber of a Fr. Altier would most likely be assigned as pastor "here or elsewhere". (Please refer to all of my words) Perhaps an exception would be made for St. Agnes, but not for another assignment as pastor.

and yes, Fr. Ubel - a classmate and good friend of Fr. Altier - and Fr. Kasel, a young priest who learned much of what he knows about priesthood from his close association with Fr. Welzbacher, Fr. Schuler and the rest of the "St. Agnes crowd" might "not speak out in protection of the innocent." - there's always that possibility. However, the chances of that being the case are approximately the same as Pope Benedict deciding to become Muslim, Hillary Clinton picketing an abortion clinic or our beloved blogmistress deciding that Jesus really DID marry Mary Magdalen after all. In short - it's not gonna happen, and making baseless accusations of "it might..." shows a tendency toward paranoia and, according to the classical definition, provides for a clear case of scandal.

If that should be the case, as you so emphatically believe it will likely come to pass, then what the heck is the reason for removing Fr. Altier away from preaching and teaching to parishes and abroad? And if the new parish leaders do so with the same reasoning (the Catechism itself) and are NOT silenced, then where's the justice? In THAT would be your scandal. Not in the hope that ALL "good and holy" priests teach from the same Catechism as was my, I suppose, rather naive expectation and implied hope in my question for the replacements to be as faithful as the one ousted for his proven fidelity to just those teachings of our Catechism of the Catholic Church. You imply there is scandal in such stated expectation even after you leave the opening yourself that there is a possibility that that may not be the case? If so, then pity the children...and the parents.

reluctant penitent

anon,

Hi Todd!

Tim Ferguson

I do not purport to know the reasons Archbishop Flynn decided to move Fr. Altier out of a parish setting. Were I boldly to ask him, and he replied, "None of your business." He would be perfectly correct.

Fr. Altier, as associate pastor of St. Agnes, was not the one responsible for St. Agnes opting out of the program. That was the pastor's responsibility. Fr. Welzbacher shouldered that responsibility more than ably for a good number of yeasr. Fr. Ubel will do as well. To presume that Fr. Ubel will change Fr. Welzbacher's policies simply because he is not Fr. Welzbacher (or Fr. Altier) is more than presumption. What basis do you have for impugning the character of Fr. Ubel? You seem to state, without any warrant or basis, that Fr. Ubel will be not as faithful to the teachings of the Church as his predecessors, or as Fr. Altier. What is your basis for stating that? Seriously, I would like to know, otherwise you owe a considerable apology to a very good, holy and orthodox priest.

Henry

I'm in an area of the country -- a good thousand miles from Minnesota -- where it's not uncommon for an energetic and talented priest to be appointed as a pastor less than 10 years out from his ordination. I wonder whether anyone on the scene there can tell me whether it's unusual in Minnesota for a priest of fairly conspicuous stature to still be an assistant approaching 20 years after ordination.

Cam42

Fr. Altier promotes orthodoxy with a ferocity that is sorely lacking in the majority of the Archdiocese's priests.

I know the majority of the priests and I know the establishment in the Archdiocese. Fr. Altier doesn't pull punches. He is not afraid to talk about sin, call for people to get in the confessional, and return to the Sacraments.

Fr. Altier's pasotral style doesn't "fit the model" that has been created by Archbishop Flynn, Bishop Pates, and Fr. Kevin McDonough. The thing is......he is/was effective. How many priests do you know that have brought at least 200 people into the Church, SINGLE HANDEDLY? How many priests do you know that will spend 20 hours a week in the confessional, EVERY WEEK!!!! Multiply that by 14 years and you have about 15,000 hours. How many priests do you know who are 45 or under who have done that? I can count on one hand that many (Fr. Altier is one of them). How many priests do you know that preach about, teach about and speak about sin, in a manner that doesn't offend, but rather brings people back to the Church.....

That is why he is not a pastor. He doesn't bend to the establishment. He stands up for the Truth and he doesn't compromise on said Truth. Can you say the same thing about these parishes: St. Joan of Arc? St. Stephen? Pax Christi? The Basilica of St. Mary? Our Lady of Lourdes? I can keep going....but I won't....it is really sad that a priest is being treated the way that he is.

Please pray for him....please pray for his vocation....please pray that this time in the desert will be fruitful. Fr. Altier is a good and holy priest.

The move to Hastings is punative. There is nothing secretive about that. Why in the world would you take someone with the pastoral experience of Fr. Altier and make him an assistant chaplin to a 61 bed Hospital? It is illogical. We don't know how long this assignment will be, but I can guarantee you that it will be extended. He will have to settle in at the nursing home. What is to keep Fr. Altier from sitting in the confessional? Primarily the fact that he won't be welcome to do so at St. Agnes any longer. Why do you think that the Archdiocese has moved him 30 miles away? Coincidence? Nope.

Those previously listed parishes are magnets, they are magnets of heterodoxy and not orthodoxy. Why is it that I can rattle off multiple parishes which are heterodox and only list one which is faithfully orthodox to the precepts of Sacrosanctum Concilium and Vatican Council II? It is this unbending orthodoxy that Fr. Altier preaches that is part of the draw. The ceremonies, in which Fr. Altier promotes and celebrates is the other. Why do people flock to St. Agnes? Because they want sound, orthodox Catholic teaching and life. Simple.

There are several parishes that are in the immediate area, St. Vincent's, St. Adelbert's, St. Columba, St. Agnes, St. Bernard's. And St. Agnes has the best attended Masses, I am not talking about the 10am Latin High Mass either, which typically draws 200-300 people. I am talking about 150-200 people at the 6am, 400-500 people at the 8:30am, and the 12 Noon, which as you know.....are in English.

While St. Agnes does have those who drive in, St. Agnes has ALWAYS had people who drive in. It is the German National Parish. It doesn't have territorial boundaries as do the other parishes, but traditionally has ministered to all the German-speaking people of the Archdiocese. So, that doesn't suprise me, nor should it suprise anyone.

When I speak about this, I am coming from a unique position. That of an insider. I know the inner workings and I know the reasonings behind the motivation of Fr. Altier. It is a strong and precise commitment to orthodoxy. It is unwavering and it is fueled by the love (agape) of the people whom he serves. What more do we want from our priests?

There is a long history of long associate pastorates at St. Agnes. Fr. Ince who was the previous curate was there for 17 years. Before that Fr. Peters who was there 11 years.

Part of the reasoning is that the parish is a National parish and dealing with the German peoples plays a part in that....but since Fr. Altier knows the elaborate ceremonines, it was advantageous to leave him there.

Why should he have not been there so long? Perhaps the good that he was doing at St. Agnes allowed for him to be more available to the necessities of his pastoral and priestly ministry. I do know that he has applied to be pastor in the past, however.

What is with this "magnet" fixation. St. Agnes is a "magnet" only insofar as it is orthodox. People will gravitate toward that.

I think that to move Fr. Altier is not just.

Mitchell Hadley

Chris K,

You asked where I stand on the issue myself. Good question. Not sure I have a good answer, but I'll try. It almost seems as if you have to look at this in a couple of ways.

Fr. Neuhaus described Archbishop Flynn as being from the "Good Hire, Bad Fire" school. By that he meant that many of the archbishop's appointments have been quite good, and totally appropriate to the occasion - either to the parish, the personnel, or the situation. For the most part I think his hires have been good ones. I think the appointment at St. Agnes shows an appreciation for the tradition of the parish, the needs of the parishioners, and the prospects for spiritual growth in the future. Fr. Ubel is a good choice, and in appointing Fr. Kasel I think he's tried to show the parish that he's trying to be sensitive to our needs.

Where I often disagree with Archbishop Flynn is in the area of "Bad Fire." That ranges anywhere from the Rainbow Sash to VIRTUS to St. Joan of Arc. In many of these areas my feelings toward the archbishop have been quite uncharitable. The man drives me crazy, in other words! I've expressed the opinion that his administrative (and that of his staff) smacks of arrogance and insensitivity, which makes them partially responsible for provoking the feelings from those who disagree with him. (Much as if you had a stick and were poking a lion through the bars of his cage.) Nonetheless, I accept responsibility when my feelings cross the line to the extent that they become a confessible matter, which has happened before.

So in many situations when Archbishop Flynn governs the diocese as a pastor, he does well. When he does it as an administrator he does less well. If people were choosing up and assigning sides, one would almost assuredly categorize me as an "opponent," and they'd probably be justified in doing so. I struggle with being obedient to Harry Flynn the archbishop. And yet I wouldn't hesitate to take spiritual advise from Harry Flynn the priest.

This may seem contradictory to you - in truth, it does to me as well. As Amy said, this is an unusual archdiocese. Hopefully that does explain things somewhat, but if you have questions or if you see some flaws in this logic please do call it to my attention. My thoughts, like my spirituality, remain a work in progress.

Cam42

Here's a question....(I already know the answer AND it's quite telling)

Since everyone is talking about Fr. Ubel being a good coice....WHAT IS HIS PASTORAL EXPERIENCE?

Have a nice day.

reluctant penitent

'Nonetheless, I accept responsibility when my feelings cross the line to the extent that they become a confessible matter, which has happened before.'

Are you sure you're not suffering from scruples? Isn't anger--even sustained anger--sometimes justified? Unless you were praying that the Abp ends up in hell or becomes ill, why would your anger be sinful? I'm asking because I am very much afraid that excessive deference to authority by orthodox Catholics has resulted in far too many bishops being far too accommodating to dissenters. Why would they bother accommodating the orthodox if they know that they are going to obey?

Tim Ferguson

Fr. Ubel, who was ordained the same year as Fr. Altier and has been a good friend of his since their seminary days, has many years experience as an associate pastor, he was chaplain at St. Thomas Academy, and so has the background with academics to help fill Fr. Welzbacher's shoes as superintendent at St. Agnes, he was vocation director when the Archdiocese began an upswing in seminarians, inlcuding many from St. Agnes, he's helped with the Tridentine indult Mass at St. Augustine, he was interim rector of the St. Paul Seminary after Bishop Campbell was made bishop of Columbus. Fr. Ubel is an excellent confessor and a fine priest. He will make a fitting successor to the great men who've pastored St. Agnes - Bishops Trobec and Schladweiler, Msgr. Bandas, Msgr. Schuler and Fr. Welzbacher.
The fretful complaints about his coming are shocking - anyone who knows him has no doubts whatsoever about his orthodoxy or his aptitude, and the slanderous accusations that he's going to undo the work of his predecessors in office are, frankly, appalling.

Cam42

In other words he has never been a pastor, yet he is now going to pastor one of the largest, most vibrant parishes in the Archdiocese.

I, too, know Fr. Ubel. I too have had close contact with him and I can tell you that I have concerns about his ability to pastor this parish. Looking at his resume, I don't see any real pastoral experience.

Wouldn't it make more sense (sic. be more logical) to have an experienced assistant (such as Fr. Altier) remain and help him to assimilate better into the parish?

Why do you think that I am questioning his orthodoxy? I have never once made a comment about his orthodoxy. I know that he is an orthodox priest, however, that is not enough of a credential to provide me with any sustainable certitude that he can handle the pastorate of St. Agnes.

Am I willing to give him the benefit of the doubt? No. I think that a parish which has always had a senior pastor shouldn't receive what is best described as an administrator.

So, please don't project the idea that I think that Fr. Ubel is heterodox. I don't believe that he is. I do KNOW that he has been posturing himself for this parish for years and years. I do know that his politics are supportive of Archbishop Flynn's. I do know that there is a reason that a priest with no "quantifiable" pastoral experience is being put into place in a senior pastorate is illogical.

Tim, let's play this out...how do those qualities which you list make him a good pastor? There is no doubt that he would be a good adminstrator, but that makes a pastor NOT. Even you say as much about Archbishop Flynn, in reverse.

Mitchell Hadley

Reluctant,

Good comments on both points. I don't confess normal anger; it's more the kind where your mother says you should be ashamed of yourself!

1) I probably do run toward scruples from time
to time, but I like to think it's because politics was so unscrupulous, I have to make up for it! :-)

2) More seriously, I think for me it's a matter of being civil in my thoughts and my private comments as well as my writing. Whatever the discussion, I think it helps to maintain a civility that in these dayes we too often ignore. I think that quite a lot of the anger we may experience is (or can be) justified. On occasion I've been known to express myself in ways that probably demean that civility.

In that sense I've tried (and probably fallen short) to suggest that some of the archbishop's words and acts seem to be deliberately provoking. In that case, not only is the anger justified, the burden of responsibility for that anger also shifts in part to the one provoking the anger.

Thanks for your thoughts on it. I strive to be charitable toward all in these discussions, and I fear I don't always succeed. To read your thougths provides me with encouragement and consolation in that area.

chris K

To presume that Fr. Ubel will change Fr. Welzbacher's policies simply because he is not Fr. Welzbacher (or Fr. Altier) is more than presumption. What basis do you have for impugning the character of Fr. Ubel? You seem to state, without any warrant or basis, that Fr. Ubel will be not as faithful to the teachings of the Church as his predecessors, or as Fr. Altier. What is your basis for stating that? Seriously, I would like to know, otherwise you owe a considerable apology to a very good, holy and orthodox priest.

What basis do YOU, Tim, have for lying about what I've written? I impugned no one nor did I "presume" anything. I never even mentioned Fr. Welzbacher's policies. Talk about needing an apology...you can start right here with me just on that point alone. Or do you just need remedial reading WITH comprehension along with a little lesson on NOT stating or spinning falsehoods about another's actual wording? You did it before and apparently didn't like getting caught not including all of my words. One would think you'd stop. I've been speaking to Fr. Altier's brave stand against an evil program being a possibility for use in any parish, not just his own. I've been speaking to his being cut off from preaching the real gospel far beyond his parish...into the parts of the world where they no longer have access to such teaching. Should that program go forward anywhere even if St. Agnes opts out?? I even used your own usage of "possibility" for a future with less than Fr. Altier's strong defense being continued, as did the insider at St. Agnes I said should also have opinion considered. I used your own lovely complimentary character attributes for the replacement priests with just a question (not permitted once you have anointed someone yourself??) of whether or not he/they will take such a strong stance against such diocesan permitted TAT programs as the man they replace by the Archbishop's direction. And, if so, then what is the point of moving him in the first place? I did not "presume" anything. I asked the question that goes to the crux of the AB's decision. You're the one who turned things into an emotional and personal nature. Nice try. Take up your arguments with the one I referred people to in the first place with the insider view and different opinion (who thankfully now has given us here the sound basis for such an opinion) Did you also conveniently forget that when stating that I give no basis? Come on, let's have a real truthful discussion about just why a good man was moved out of the way and whether or not as strong a defense for parents and children as his will come forward if any replacement decides to teach on the Catechism as Fr. Altier so ably did.

Frankly, there would be no possibility of any new scandal for the people if the Archbishop would have humbly agreed with Fr. A that such a program has absolutely no place under his jurisdiction...IOW, simply admitting that he was wrong about it. I know...snowballs in hell!

A far as "good hires, bad fires" goes with this archbishop, when speaking of the one who is actually doing the suffering, I see the good father as more than just being the inevitable "bad fire" in one more bad decision. The faith of the people was in question here.

reluctant penitent

'Wouldn't it make more sense (sic. be more logical) to have an experienced assistant (such as Fr. Altier) remain and help him to assimilate better into the parish?'

My parish is in the same archdiocese and when our pastor was reassigned our associate pastor was reassigned soon thereafter because--or so we were told--there is a rule against an associate pastor of a parish becoming a pastor of the same parish. I don't know whether this rule is written or unwritten, and I don't even know whether it was something made up by hiring committee members--yes we hire priests by committee in this archdiocese--to justify not promoting our associate pastor, so feel free to jump all over this information.

Cam42

http://stagnes.net/media/documents/fr-w-announcement.pdf

There is the link for the letter of resignation. Notice that he doesn't directly speak about declining health. He speaks about a decline in energy. That speaks better to my position than it does to declining health, which Mitchell gave.

Also, looking to this letter, we can see that the analysis that I have given is closer than that given of anyone else thus far.

Again, I will ask what are the pastoral credentials of Fr. Ubel? What experience does he have as a pastor. Do I think that Fr. Altier should have been made pastor? No, I don't, but I think that a more experienced priest would be a better choice....rather than a "friend and former student."

Daniel W

rp - I don't think there's a hard and fast rule, but that is the general case that associates are not made directly into pastors at the same parish.

That said, the associate pastor of St. Olaf in DT Minneapolis was just made pastor there. But this was clearly an exception - there may have been some extenuating circumstances that would have made it beneficial for the healing process in the parish to have some continutity there. It's been a rough past two or three years, from what I understand.

Tim Ferguson

and Fr. Schuler came to St. Agnes with how many no prior experience as pastor, and Fr. Welzbacher came to St. Agnes with about five years experience as pastor, and Fr. Bandas came to St. Agnes with no previous experience as pastor...
I've already listed the credentials I see serving Fr. Ubel well as pastor - his prior experience at St. Olaf, at St. Thomas Academy, at the Vocations Office, at SPS.
I can see this is getting ad hominem, and I apologize if I've contributed to that. I just believe that screeches of "but the new guys might come in and undo the good that Fr. Altier did and introduce programs that are going to permit children to be abused or exposed to grave spiritual harm" is completely basely and unwarranted, especially considering the caliber of the men coming in. If I've mischaracterized your statements chrisK, and you are welcoming Fr. Ubel as pastor with open arms or at least a wait-and-see attitude before decrying what he might do, I do apologize.

Cam42

Msgr. Schuler had worked as the weekend assistant at St. Agnes for some time before being named pastor. So, it is a misnomer to say that the Monsignor had no prior experience.

As for Msgr. Bandas, the man was given St. Agnes as a reward for long service to the Archdiocese. He earned the right to be a pastor and he was made Domestic Prelate in 1955, two full years before he became pastor of St. Agnes in 1957. Before the Council, this was SOP.

If you can prove to me that Fr. Ubel has given long and distinguished service to the Archdiocese, which merits this award, I would love to see it....the list that you give does not even pale in comparison to the accomplishments of Msgr. Bandas.

Again, Tim, to support Chris K, I would posit that you are simply "rah-rahing" Fr. Ubel, because he is a friend. His credetials do not support him being a senior pastor; no matter how many ways you look at it.

While I am most certainly defending Fr. Altier, I also am one to say quite frankly, that he should not have been made pastor. Not every priest should be a pastor, Fr. Altier was fulfilling a very vital role as assistant at St. Agnes.

Finally, I don't credit the Liturgical life of St. Agnes to Fr. Altier. He certainly contributes to it, but it is the tireless work of four individuals that has made the Liturgical Life of St. Agnes what it is today. Msgr. Rudolph Bandas; Msgr. Richard J. Schuler; Deacon Harold Hughsdon; and B. Allen Young (sacristan and emcee).

All the priests who have been part of the parish, including Frs. Peters, Siebenaler, Meyers, Ince, and Altier; as well as the various deacons (Bilder, Mangan, and most certainly Pederson) are contributers and sustainers, but the real credit lies with those four mentioned above.

Cam42

From Elizabeth Schwab;

After the recent announcement of the upcoming departure of the pastor at the Church of St. Agnes, Fr. George Welzbacher, and the transferal of the associate pastor, Fr. Robert Altier, to the position of assistant chaplain at a distant nursing home, Vicar General Fr. Kevin McDonough claimed in comments published by the St. Paul Pioneer Press that these changes should cause no concern and “there is less here than meets the eye.” (http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/14568281.htm)

The fact remains that a priest with a thriving ministry -- who should actually be promoted to the pastorate after an unusually lengthy service of 14 years as associate pastor of this landmark parish -- is being sent to a nursing home where he will have virtually no responsibilities or opportunities to exercise his priestly office. In Fr. Welzbacher’s statement released May 11, his age (he is 78) and declining energy level are named as determining factors in his departure, but states that the “current limited number of priests” in the archdiocese necessitates that he continue to serve as pastor in a neighboring inner-city parish rather than retire. Yet the same archdiocese will move Fr. Altier (at the age of 45) to a vastly diminished position in a nursing home while several parishes in the archdiocese do not have a priest in residence!

Then to add insult to injury, Archdiocesan spokesman Dennis McGrath told Spirit Daily that Fr. Altier “was happy with the reassignment and in fact had requested it.” (http://www.spiritdaily.com/altiernursinghome.htm) Fr. Altier never made any such request. The move was initiated by Archbishop Flynn, and Fr. Altier will obediently comply with his wishes.

It is suspected that Fr. Altier’s efforts to inform the public on the dangers of the controversial sex-ed program VIRTUS/TAT (http://www.desertvoice.org/SilencedandExiled.html) are at the root of Archbishop Flynn’s recent actions. With millions of dollars invested in the VIRTUS program and stockholders’ concerns to worry about, the archdiocese wants to quiet Fr. Altier as they move forward to implement this offensive program. Most people do not realize that The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc (National Catholic) is a risk retention insurance group that actually owns VIRTUS, and in turn is owned and managed by shareholders, which include numerous dioceses throughout the United States. (Check out the financial returns to shareholders in the first section of the newsletter at http://www.virtus.org/virtus/newsletter.cfm?newsletter_id=38 and see how many dioceses have money invested on page 1, paragraph 1 at http://www.virtus.org/virtus/newsletters/VIRTUS_29.pdf ) In addition, our Vicar General Fr. Kevin McDonough himself happens to sit on the national steering committee of VIRTUS. (See page 4 at http://www.virtusonline.org/virtus/newsletters/VIRTUS_16.pdf) But few people know that an alternative program, Formation in Christian Chastity (FICC) from the diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is in full conformity with Catholic Church teaching and is available to the public free of charge. (Get it here http://www.primaryeducators.org/)

Many have wondered why Archbishop Flynn would continue to promote VIRTUS/TAT when he really prefers FICC (See Fr. Welzbacher’s statement at end of page: http://www.desertvoice.org/responseoffraltierandfrwelzbacher.htm), and the answer may come down to the issues of money and the promotion of the homosexual agenda. This would not be surprising if one takes into account the financial investment already made and considers the rampant homosexual subculture that DOES exist in the Saint Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese. Before his death from AIDS earlier this year, local homosexual activist Bill Kummer “related how he had been able to manipulate Archbishop Harry Flynn into pushing the homosexual agenda in the archdiocese, and how parents who objected to [his] agenda were frustrated in their efforts.” (See The Wanderer article at http://thewandererpress.com/a11-3-2005.htm). What a tragedy if the souls of innocent children are being corrupted due to financial interests and the desire to pacify homosexual lobbyists!

No wonder Fr. Kevin McDonough is quick to tell the public, “There’s less here than meets the eye,” because by the looks of things, one would have to say that there’s probably a whole lot more than meets the eye!

-----------------

Imgaine that.....Fr. McDonough and Archbishop Flynn. It seems as though my positioning in this is becomimg more and more obvious.

How can we sustain this line of reasoning of this removal as being nothing more than "not fitting the mold."

Tim Ferguson

I guess you're right Cam, Fr. Ubel shouldn't be pastor and when he takes over, St. Agnes is going to go right down the drain. He'll probably block his good from Fr. Altier from coming back for visits, kick Msgr. Schuler out of the rectory, have the orchestra learn the chords to Glory and Praise and replace every third altar boy with a pig-tailed girl.
No, Fr. Ubel probably doesn't merit an "award" (though I thought we were talking about the ecclesiatical office of pastor, not an "award"), and the whole place is going to go to heck in a handbasket.
I'll certainly keep him in my prayers though - if there's even a significant minority of parishioners like this who are counting on his failure, he's got a tough row to hoe.
See you on the 28th for Fr. Magnuson's First Holy Mass. (though he's probably bad too...)

Tim Ferguson

oops - "good friend Fr. Altier..."

Cam42

Nice ad hominem.......

I appreciate the complete misrepresentation of my position.....again, where have I said any of that.....

You sir have lost credibility. Nice job.

chris K

I'll certainly keep him in my prayers though - if there's even a significant minority of parishioners like this who are counting on his failure, he's got a tough row to hoe.

Well, your above "apology" is now declared null and void as well as your credibility. Where do you get this stuff...these all out clear misrepresentations of the sincere expressions of those who have a fact-based difference in judgment than yourself? Don't you get it yet that the pastorship is not the question...it's the original smack down decision of an excellent teacher of the faith whose tireless work, bringing into the Church so many converts...and informed converts, gains only personal suffering? Try and read (and comprehend) the pastor's description of just what talents both priests, Fr. Altier and the incoming pastor, have brought to their vocations...Fr. Altier's are loaded with pastoral experience...dealing with marriages, youth, confessions, counseling in all aspects of the faith...for years. In fact, for much longer at the parish even than the current pastor. This isn't something made up...nor does it say anything evil about another priest. It merely states the facts of experience and talents and to what end or direction they apppear to be more suited.

Bottom line is St. Blog's constant, grumbling quest for just what people expect of their shepherds. Here is one who would answer that ideal. So, now, the same people won't fight for him to continue as such a shepherd to the great numbers constantly asking for help and guidance? They are happy that he's going to be out of touch...with his many gifts from God being limited in their outreach? Some people are never satisfied. Such fickle faithful. Shows they would rather side with those who do nothing but promote the "smoke" that has now been so established in our parishes and dioceses that they all are now lost too in that all pervasive fog.

May we return to the question of whether Fr. Altier is the object of mistreatment or not, himself, instead of the cop out of those who are too afraid to ever loudly disagree with an evil decision that goes against the very teaching of their Faith? The faithful here and elsewhere are being hindered in their God expected right to hear the truth being preached by those given the anointing to do so. The original decision to silence the priest now topped with this miscarriage of justice came down like hammers to those who know what kind of priest Fr. Altier is. If it got no such response in your own spirit, then welcome to the dying group of boiling frogs who don't even feel any longer. Their real motto: May the status quo prevail!

Michael

Here is a sneak peek of the official appointments from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis:

http://app.bronto.com/x/preview.php?id=127998_4f6c1e25_12860864_4743552e

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