The Worst Scandal of All
“For more than thirty years the Catholic Church in America has been under assault by liberal and unorthodox forces. A particular group of intellectual elitists has risen to positions of power within diocesan chanceries, school administrations and clerical offices. These liberationists have an agenda to loose the Church from its moorings with the See of Rome, an agenda they claim stems from the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Bishops faced with a shortage of priests, surrounded by liberals, and up against the clawing demands of an amoral society, are often unaware of what is going on in their dioceses.” So writes Cecilia H. Martin in her book, Confusion in the Pews.
Martin does an excellent job of describing the rise of dissenting priests such as Father McBrien, nuns such as Sister Fiedler, and organizations such as Call to Action (CTA), Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC), and others. She also does a fine job of putting everything into historical perspective. She describes the effect of Vatican II and those who interpreted the changes for their own purposes. Changes were introduced rapidly and without preface or explanation. Bishops as well as priests and nuns were confused. Zealot reformers ripped out altar rails, kneelers and sometimes Stations of the Cross. Michael Rose’s book, Ugly as Sin, gives a good account of what happened to our churches. Crucifixes were old fashioned and replaced with the Risen Christ or taken out all together.
All of this coincided with the rise of social revolution in America. The civil disobedience of the civil rights movement, protest against the Vietnam War, and the birth of the pill all glamorized dissent in the American Catholic Church. Even though the documents of Vatican II changed very little, the radical left took up the cry of “the Spirit of Vatican II.” The laity became even more confused and didn’t know what to believe. As Martin said, “Apathy and ignorance leave them vulnerable to the sometimes misguided direction of their parish priest.” Today the Church leadership in America is paralyzed by disunity.
What is the laity to do? Martin’s answer is simple – read and understand the documents of Vatican II and the Code of Canon Law. Martin provides a wealth of information concerning these documents. As an example, parts of Canon 212 states Christ’s faithful are at liberty and sometimes have the duty to make known their needs and their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. Canon 214 states, “Christ’s faithful have the right to worship God according to the provisions of their own right approved by the lawful Pastors of the Church.” Martin gives many examples of documents that should be read or at least referenced by all Catholics in order to defend their faith.
Confusion in the Pews provides a detailed description of the feminist and homosexual movement in the Church, naming individuals and organizations responsible for the chaos that has ensued since Vatican II. If there were not enough dissenting organizations, Bishop Joseph Bernadin, the saint of the ‘liberal’ press, started the Campaign for Human Development (CHD) in 1970. The money machine for the radical left has been in operation ever since. In 1976 Bishop Bernadin was the president of the National Council of Catholic Bishops (NCCB). This was the year the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the CTA and the CHD took over the conference and conducted it in their interpretation of “the Spirit of Vatican II.” All parishes were called to support a neighborhood action group tapping into diocesan resources and departing from magisterial teaching. The laity supported the radical agenda. Researcher/writer Stephanie Block exposed this unholy alliance, and the bishops finally took corrective action after seeing how the CHD funds were being used to support groups promoting abortion and other activity contrary to Church teaching. Again Martin demonstrates how the laity need to be involved in their Church.
Martin describes in detail how members of the NCCB proved to be the “worst of wimps” when they used Cardinal Bernadin’s “seamless garment” theory to equate the killing of tens of thousands of innocent babies to the execution of one convicted murderer. The “seamless garment” theory, also promoted by the radical leftist Pax Christi, had the effect of de-energizing the pro-life movement. Pro-lifers were ridiculed as single issue people. Cardinal Bernadin succeeded in keeping Catholics in the Democratic Party which supported abortion on demand. After Bernadin’s death, Archbishop Weakland assumed the radical left mantle and wore it for the bishops until he was exposed for paying $450,000 to silence his gay partner. After this, Cardinal Mahoney, famous for his losing obsession to crush Mother Angelica, took up the radicals’ torch.
Confusion in the Pews is chock-full of scandals surrounding corporate groups, including those in the United Nations; anti-Catholic groups that call themselves Catholic; and, the NCCB, church educators, bishops, priests, nuns, and others. Martin does not elaborate on the scandals as found in Goodbye Good Men, by Michael Rose, but does not need to as these are all too familiar to us. What she says in regard to the scandals is provocative and is quoted here.
“Scandals also occur on an individual basis among us, our families, our friends, for which, we repent and start over again. However, there is one enormous scandal of which we may not be aware. We the ordinary pew people, for the most part, have remained ignorant and silent. We do not want to know the bad news. We find it impossible to face the fact that a bishop, a priest, a nun, or Church official may be guilty of malfeasance. If by chance, we do find out, we promptly deny, “forget” or ignore what we have learned. Yet we reserve the right to complain, “Why doesn’t the Pope do something?” “Does the bishop know?” “Father should...” We can’t sit around and attach blame to people. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. In a certain sense we are just as responsible for their salvation as ours. We who have been given the gift of faith, are guilty of one of the worst scandals of all, we run away while Jesus agonizes on the cross. Isn’t [it] time we changed that?”
I would like to repeat and emphasize her last two sentences because they are so important, “We who have been given the gift of faith, are guilty of one of the worst scandals of all, we run away while Jesus agonizes on the cross. Isn’t [it] time we changed that?” This really hit me. The next time I saw a priest ‘consecrating’ leavened bread, joking while he gave the Eucharist to an Extraordinary Minister, leaving Christ at the altar to shake hands with everyone in the church, and committing other liturgical abuses, I visualized Christ agonizing on the cross. Yes, it is time we changed that. We need to become educated in our faith. We need to become knowledgeable in the many valuable documents which the Vatican has made available to us. We need to become activists. We need to become Defenders of The Faith!
Confusion in the Pews is not all bad news about dissidents within the Church. Martin points out numerous lay organizations that have sprung up throughout the United States with newsletters and websites to confront the assault on our Church. This Catholic “alternative press” teaches and encourages Catholics to become involved in the cultural and spiritual wars going on in America. One of these organizations is Les Femmes, Women of Truth, in Virginia near Washington D.C. They not only produce an excellent newsletter, but are very active in protesting abuses within their own diocese. Les Femmes, led by Mary Ann Kreitzer, exposes so-called “Catholic” public figures who favor contraception, abortion, and homosexuality and the bishops who fail to chastise them. With Joan of Arc as their patron, they oppose the radical feminism and even held a “funeral for feminism” on the steps of the US Capitol for which the Washington Times described them as ‘housewives with chutzpah.”
There are numerous other organizations throughout the United States. Many of these have banded together in an organization called Catholic Media Coalition, Inc. (CMC).They can be located on their website www.catholicmediacoalition.org, and a member organization can be located near you. There are organizations in 20 states, with four groups in Florida alone, each publishing a variety of newsletters, articles, and even books. Many have their own websites. Defenders of The Faith, Inc. has its own radio station. Some groups have only one member and some have dozens. Mailing list totals are in the thousands. All are connected by the Internet. The CMC website has links to numerous publications and helpful information to enable you to learn your faith and defend it in your parish, diocese, or wherever you need to defend it.
With all of this armament you are ready to go into battle against those who perform liturgical abuses, invite pro-abort nuns to give talks at your parish, teach acceptance of homosexuality in your parish schools or seek in other ways to diminish if not destroy our faith. Let’s assume as an example, in your parish the priest uses bread baked by a parishioner and it contains molasses and yeast. Either the pastor is ignorant of the norms, in which case he needs to be brought up to date, or he is maliciously disobedient. He should be approached very respectfully on the matter and if he refuses to listen and continues to disobey, members of the parish should appeal to the bishop with a copy to the Apostolic Nuncio. You should pull up the document Redemptionis Sacramentum on the internet and do a cut and paste of the paragraph that pertains to your problem. In our example, refer to ’The Matter of the Most Holy Eucharist’ (paragraph 48). (Interestingly, it was our bishop, Bishop Bransfield, who suggested the use of this Vatican document.) You would follow this with a description of the abuse or abuses occurring in your parish and your attempts to communicate with the priest. It is best if another person is a witness and also signs the letter to the bishop with you.
In our example, a letter to the bishop could be:
Dear Bishop Smith:
This letter is a formal complaint against Father Jones of St. Michael’s parish and a request for you to impose proper remedies as per Redemptionis Sacramentum. Father Jones has committed grave abuses against the Liturgy, Sacraments, and Church authority in the past and he unrepentantly continues to do so.
I wish to use the Vatican document Redemptionis Sacramentum as a reference to our obligation as laity and as Church Officials. This document states “In this regard it is not possible to be silent about the abuses, even quite grave ones, against the nature of the Liturgy and the Sacraments as well as the tradition and the authority of the Church...” (4). It further states, “The Mystery of the Eucharist is too great for anyone to permit himself to treat it according to his own whim, so that its sacredness and its universal ordering would be obscured. On the contrary, anyone who acts thus by giving free reign to his own inclinations, even if he is a Priest, injures the substantial unity of the Roman Rite, which ought to be vigorously preserved.” (11). “Likewise, the Catholic people have the right that the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass should be celebrated for them in an integral manner, according to the entire doctrine of the Church’s Magisterium.” (12). Canon Law states that the laity has a right and duty to bring liturgical inconsistencies to a pastor’s attention. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states this in Paragraph 907. Due to the requirements placed upon me by Redemptionis Sacramentum and Canon Law, I submit this formal complaint against Rev. Father Jones.
I have attended several vigil Masses at St. Michael’s and at almost every vigil Mass, leavened bread is used. This bread is usually in the form of sliced wheat bread cut into ½ inch cubes. It has a color similar to what one would expect if molasses were added to a recipe for leavened bread. Redemptionis Sacramentum states, “...bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament. It is a grave abuse to introduce other substances, such as fruit or sugar or honey, into the bread for confecting the Eucharist. Hosts should obviously be made by those who are not only distinguished by their integrity, but also skilled in making them and furnished with suitable tools.” (48).
Two of us have previously attempted to meet with Father Jones at a time that was convenient for him and have been rejected. His usual response is, “That is your opinion.”
I have requested another fellow Catholic who attends Mass at St. Michael’s to witness the above grave abuses against the Liturgy, Sacraments, and Church authority. His signature attests to the fact he has witnessed the above. I pray that Church authorities will follow the remedies as outlined in Redemptionis Sacramentum, and this terrible situation will be corrected without further delay.
cc: Apostolic Nuncio
Paragraph 178 of Redemptionis Sacramentum identifies the action the bishop is required to take. If the bishop does not solve the problem, it should go to at least one, but if necessary, several congregations at the Vatican. In this example, a letter would be sent to the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (The same that promulgated the Vatican document).
If you send correspondence on to the Vatican, always include a cover letter clearly explaining the problem and what you have done. Example:
I am writing to express my grave concern that Father Jones of St. Michaels, my parish, is providing invalid matter for the Most Holy Sacrifice during Mass at our parish. I discussed the problem with Father Jones, and when he failed to take corrective action I wrote to Bishop Smith who has not responded to two letters. The correspondence is attached. As a CCD teacher (or member of the Knights of Columbus, or President of the Legion of Mary, or father of five), I am very concerned about the flagrant liturgical abuse and the inability for us to receive the true Christ in the Eucharist. I beg for your assistance in redressing this situation. Be assured of my prayers. etc.
cc: Bishop Smith
Fortunately, Catholics have always had the utmost respect for their bishops, priests, and nuns. Unfortunately, this has made Catholics more complainers than communicators. Our lack of communication has only intensified the problems within the clergy. A bishop, no matter how saintly and intelligent he may be, needs the help of the laity to assist in his ministerial duties to his flock. Bishops, like most people, do not like to hear bad news, but most bishops would appreciate learning about circumstances that are undermining the Church. There are circumstances where the bishop is part of the problem. You should learn to evaluate him by his responses to you, his pastoral letters, how he votes at the NCCB meetings, what type of programs he permits within his diocese, and all other forms of public communication. It is possible he may need some direction from the Vatican. Research the documents from the Vatican and go to work.
If all else fails there is one more solution – Go Public! As the late Bishop Fulton Sheen prophesied, “It is the laity that will save the Church.” Send letters to the Catholic press, to the secular press, set up an e-mail list. Organize a group to protest, send out flyers, protest with signs, and start a telephone campaign. You would be amazed at how effective the Internet is as an alternate press. If you can get your message on a website you will be even more effective. Many activists have been extremely successful at convincing priests, bishops, and cardinals to cancel meetings with known dissidents including those with homosexual and abortion agendas. Cecilia Martin’s book gives some detailed examples of the success of two such groups. One passed out over 35,000 flyers and flooded the Vatican with tapes, photographs, and other documentation. Another group not mentioned, Roman Catholic Faithful, actually deposed a homosexual bishop.
Always in your efforts pray, pray, and pray some more. If your prayer is only a petition for change in the thinking and action of the dissident and the success of your actions – pray anyway. Remember, God already knows what you need. What you are praying for is for God to tell you what He needs of you. Prayer and the sacraments will enable you to be charitable in your actions and to be knowledgeable as to what God really expects of you. You need prayer to continue efforts that may or may not be immediately successful or even seem successful. You need prayer to continue with activities that may be stressful, time consuming, dull, repetitive, expensive, and even result in abusive acts toward you. You need prayer to have empathy toward those who oppose the teachings of the Church (remember. you are responsible for your brother’s soul as well as your own). You need prayer to acquire faith, and faith is what is needed to change minds, convert dissidents, heal divisions, and encourage others to be Defenders of the Faith.
Confusion in the Pews, written by Cecilia H. Martin, is published by 1st Books Library (www.1stbooks.com). In addition to an amazing amount of information regarding dissidents and dissident organizations in the Church, it contains considerable material concerning Vatican documents, how to write letters to the clergy, and suggested activity that can be undertaken to propagate the true faith to the Catholic Church.
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