With this declaration, Father Columnist opened one of his most curious and certainly inane columns, The Pope's Secret Plan.
He laments the lack of parishes with resident priests while reporting on our Bishop's "twinning" [by now sextuplet] implementation. Father bemoans, along with the Bishop [according to our columnist] that the Bishop has no power to alter the celibacy requirement, and offered as the proposed solution, a non-solution, the "secret plan," which goes something like this, fabricated in Father's mind of course, otherwise it could not be secret:
The Holy Father is not changing the norm of celibacy because "he wants to return to the Priesthood of the Faithful," thereby "ridding the Church of clericalism." Father tells his readers that the Priesthood of the Faithful was the norm of the early Church. [Recall one of the rules for dialogue.] As in part 2 we come to the conclusion that Father, who professes disdain for anything pre-Vatican II is quite comfortable with that same history if he can re-write it to fit his tortured reasoning, aided by any ignorance of Church history his readers may have.
Father then launches into a paragraph of praise for "base communities" of the Third World, informing us that the Holy Father "is aware of their effectiveness," and then compares them to the early Church. Father does not inform his readers that the Holy Office is indeed aware of the effectiveness of "base communities," in sowing dissent, that is, so much so that it published an Instruction on Certain Aspects of the "Theology of Liberation," in which the faithful are warned about "borrowing in an insufficiently critical manner, concepts borrowed from various currents of Marxist thought." If Father wants to claim to know the private "secret plans" of the Vicar of Christ, he might start with an intimate study of the Magisterium and attendant instructions. As far as the celibacy aspect is concerned, see our critique of Channel 13 segment, following the conclusion of this page.
The Hearing Confessions Column
Of all of Father's columns I have read, this one was the most poignantly sad, for I knew him in the distant past when he was the Chaplain at a local Catholic hospital and was not given to such ruminations as above. Father's impetus for this column was an incident at the same hospital, an incident that Father says "is common" there. A patient who had "unburdened himself of a sin" to a lay listener, wanted absolution from that person instead of from a priest, purportedly because the patient was disgusted with clericalism.
One of the elements that Father so cogently omitted was the fact that the modernity in the "American Church" offers precious little true solace that accompanies an infusion of Sacramental grace. And the fact that Holy Communion is offered by lay "Chaplains" who see no need for Confession, so people who are sick and have their guard down are vulnerable to the inducement to not have their Confessions heard, Sacramentally, at least.
My hospital stays at the very same hospital have convinced me of this. Once, when I was finally able to have the Chaplain come, he was so horrified that someone actually wanted to confess before receiving Holy Communion that he bolted, literally, from the room. Apparently I had not been sufficiently indoctrinated in the "New Church."
Father's column was a thinly veiled screed for "priestless" confessions. When a priest sees no need of a Sacrament or has sloppy thinking on it, we are in real trouble. Unless enough of us make complaints and urge the Bishop to retrain his wayward priests it is useless to tell the laity who have gotten used to not having to confess and who perhaps are losing a sense of sin, that this is not okay, because Father and his cohorts are right there to help things stay the same in the vain hope of "a lay-centered Church," which will be no Church at all.
The Empowerment in the Church Column
Father uses this column to report on what he said was a major conference "on empowerment." Empowerment is another of those code words employed to justify revolution or dissent: "The Future of the Church," attended by some 1500 "Roman Catholics." I was surprised that Father juxtapositions Roman with Catholic, since he prefers American Catholic, but then this language manipulation serves the same sort of purpose as "early Church" does. Hans Küng was the keynote speaker. According to Father's report, the hallmark of the conference is that "conscience is supreme." He neglected to inform his readers that one is obligated to form one's conscience according to the Magisterium. Father elaborates on what he terms the "tricky part of following and developing one's conscience: Conflicts can arise within particular cultures and thus while it is important" [as distinct from necessary] "to listen critically to the teachings of the Church, this is not all-----life experiences are to inform us also." Father then asserts that following the teachings of the Church leads to blind obedience. He equates this conforming of conscience with being "lorded over."
Let us parse these loaded phrases: First, if Catholics were evangelizing, culture would not be so significant as to cause moral dissonance because there would be more uniformity of morality as more and more of the culture become Catholic. Having said this, Father doesn't really care about uniform morality [less conflict which he pretends to disdain] because he is on record as wanting the individual to decide for himself, which by definition, renders each individual his own cultural standard, hence billions of cultures or chaos. He cynically uses cultural dissonance as a pretext for dissent or pressure to force the Church to conform to his modern ideas. This is point one. Point two, note how he talks out of both side of his mouth, so as to provide a cover against the charge of dissent or heresy: "listen critically to the teachings of the Church," then "life experiences ... also." Catholics are to listen humbly and with an attitude of willing submission to the Magisterium. "Critical listening" or thinking is for discovering errors. But Christ has promised to be with His Church always, so she cannot teach error, so there is no need of "critical thinking," except for rooting out error in the speeches and writings of dissenters and those who break with Tradition, wherever they should occur. Since the Church cannot formally pronounce in favor of error, life experiences cannot conflict with truth, and any apparent conflict is resolved by conforming the impact of the experience to Christ or the Truth. By implication Father is telling us that we ought to listen to life experience as a teacher of conscience, even if we disobey the Magisterium, otherwise he would not have found it necessary to say "also," as in as distinct from. Life is to be conducted by listening to a properly formed conscience, not informing it by cultural standards or the times. The Church fulfills that function. He has it backwards. Just like a progressive. Since we obey Christ the King Who is the Light, when we obey His Sacred Magisterium, how can obeying God Who is perfect and wills only our happiness and salvation ever be blind obedience or repression and error as indicated in so many words by Father? This is blasphemy! We want to "be lorded over" by Christ precisely because He is Sovereign Lord and His reign is perfect and cannot bring harm to those who serve Him as He merits and has a supreme right to!
For now, this brings us to a close on Father's legacy as a columnist for the diocesan paper: an utter lack of humility, a peevish tone, a childish and unending search for the vain glories of this world; a willingness to place "blind obedience and faith" in all the isms and their tenets, except for Catholicism, the only ism worth valuing. Column after column I yearned to ask Father, especially when he made some particularly silly statement, "Is that an infallible statement, Father?" If he said no, he was already snared in his own trap because he would be admitting he was not making his pronouncement with the protection of the Holy Ghost, thereby not too trustworthy. If he said "yes," he was entrapped still further, for he would be admitting to claiming the power of infallibility which he denies to the Pontiff.
Like the gossamer dreams of Father, my urges to ask him this question blew away with the winds of my daily life ... the countless phone calls of distress from other Catholics wondering why the Bishop permits this sophistry in the paper and from the pulpits and in their children's CCD classes ... What I would not give for one earnest "dialogue" with the "dialogue priest," who continually refused to engage me in combat. I later learned directly from the Bishop that the diocesan paper is properly a forum for "theological speculation," not defense of the Faith as has been the traditional practice until the last phase of the modern era. The Bishop told me he would not be removing the likes of Fr. Richard McBrien & Co. He said "that McBrien's bishop approves of him," which is beside the point. It does not matter if one bishop errs in his duty, as it is our bishop's duty to not err. Thus, what the bishop was really telling me was "I also approve but I want to hide behind the miter of another bishop." No guts, but lots of Masonic glory in those quarters. So the local version of McBrien won't be going either.
another segment I will write about that
infamous Christolgy course I took from Father, that is, until the rank
heresy made me so sick I could not stand one more class.