Return to Wally World

SullivanRichmond Catholic correspondent John Plessington forwards a recent article from Style, the weekly tabloid of the capital city’s smart set. The article explores Bishop Walter F. Sullivan’s legacy and the “Vatican III” pinings of Phyllis Theroux, occasional Catholic, Hollywood mom, and author of “The Good Bishop: the Life of Walter F. Sullivan.”

Richmond Catholic will spare its readers a lengthy summary. Suffice it to say that the article glowingly recounts several of the late Richmond bishop’s “bold” stands against American militarism and social injustice, and his persecution at the hands of that “hard-line traditionalist,” Pope John Paul II.

And what of the pederast scandals that hounded the “Good Bishop” during his final years in his chair?

Theroux writes that Sullivan didn’t do enough to deal with the sex abuse issues, such as involve law enforcement quickly. She says there was a “disconnect” between the “outstanding pastoral aspects of Bishop Sullivan’s ministry and his less-than-stellar treatment of sexual abuse cases.”

While Theroux sees disconnect, others see cause and effect.  In a sharp retort to Style a week later, J. F. Goodreau of Chesterfield County provided his own analysis of the Sullivan legacy:

His policies were directly responsible for parishioners leaving the church in droves. Bishop Sullivan, by not demonstrating diocese control over rogue priests, condoned their behavior. Church personnel have stated that his retirement letter to the Vatican was accepted immediately. When my father visited us during the later part of Bishop Sullivan’s tenure, he remarked, “You’re right John, this is a Catholic Church — it says so right in the church bulletin.” His lack of orthodox Catholicism left the diocese in a disaster.

Richmond Catholic was pleased to read that the Catholic Virginian has declined to accept advertisements for Theroux’s Sullivan biography, a decision we suspect was made by an authority higher than Sullivanista editor Steve Neill.

But Wally World lives on. In some parishes in the diocese – including Saint Bridget in Richmond – disciples of the ancient regime gather to read and study The Good Bishop, and there is even a study guide on the parish website.

Pearls before swine

FrFr_-Pilon-STD-2. Mark A. Pilon, a priest from the Diocese of Arlington has thoughts this morning at The Catholic Thing on Pope Francis’ penchant for off-the-cuff remarks.

Unfortunately, this vibrant papacy is already running into problems. So I want to make a little mess by suggesting that it might not be the most fruitful approach to the world for the pope to constantly have these off-the-cuff interviews with the media. In fact, he might borrow a strategy from Benedict.


He said what? Part II

A subscriber in the Virginia capital alerted Richmond Catholic to the front page story in the Times-Dispatch on Pope Francis’ “Gay Priest” comments. The article combines the Francis3reporting of the AP’s Nicole Winfield with giddy quotes from Catholic Virginian editor Steve Neill and a Richmond gay activist gathered by a local reporter. The activist is quick to address “confusion” about gay priests and clerical sexual abuse. Like most of the reporting about Francis’ remarks, the article adds to the fog that surrounds the scandal. There is also an implied rebuke of the stern measures taken by Francis’ predecessor.

Meanwhile, the indispensible Father Z today posted an excellent analysis of what Pope Francis actually said during his in-flight chat — and of the wishful thinking that has followed.

And what of Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond? Richmond Catholic suspects that, regardless of his spokesman’s enthusiasm for the supposed “new tone,” the good bishop will maintain the reputation he earned in Hawaii by establishing the American church’s first “zero tolerance” policy and for dealing decisively with cabals — or “lobbies,” to use the Holy Father’s term.

He said what?

Pope Francis’ off-the-cuff comments to reporters during his flight back to Rome from World Youth Day are causing quite a stir.FrancisPlane

Richmond Catholic has learned that when it comes to news about the Church, it is best to ignore initial reports in the secular news media. The Holy Father’s “gay priests” remarks today provide a case in point. What he actually said was unremarkable — a ham-and-eggs paraphrase of the catechism.

If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency is not the problem … they’re our brothers.”

In fact, it is not clear from National Catholic Reporter John Allen’s transcript that this widely quoted comment was even intended a reference to homosexual priests. Allen clearly did not see Pope Francis as veering from established Church teaching.

Traditionalists, meanwhile, are worried that, in restricting the use of the Extraordinary Form by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, Francis is telegraphing his hostility toward  Summorum Pontificum.

Is a dream by that STREAM so sublime?

Benedictine_High_SchoolNow that Benedictine College Preparatory has moved to broader pastures in Goochland County, the Diocese of Richmond is announcing its plans for the historic building the cadets left behind.

The diocese purchased the iconic building from the Benedictine Society of Virginia to keep it from falling into the hands of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts — a state agency. Now, after months of rumors and speculation, the diocese has announced that old Benedictine will become a “magnet” middle school — Saint Katharine Drexel Preparatory — focusing on science, technology, religion, engineering, art and mathematics.

Drexel is scheduled to open in August 2014. Where will the students come from? From Saint Bridget, Saint Mary, Saint Edward-Epiphany and Our Lady of Lourdes? Not likely. These are all well-regarded, established Catholic schools with multiple awards for academic excellence.

From Saint Benedict, which has been trying to create a niche as a K-8 Catholic classical school? The diocesan plan for a “STREAM” school (why must Catholic educators ape the public education penchant for idiotic acronyms?) is a repudiation of the vision of the reform-of-the-reform minded parish, which contributed significantly to the deal that kept old Benedictine in Catholic hands.

What about Catholic families whose children attend suburban Richmond’s excellent public schools? Are they likely to abandon their county schools to pay tuition at Drexel?

Richmond Catholic also questions the Drexel concept. Engineering? For middle school students who are still trying to master algebra and geometry?

The “project manager” for Drexel — judging from today’s Richmond newspaper — sees the concept as responsive to the great-leap-forward pretensions of the Obama administration, with a dollop of religion to make sure students are “well rounded.”

Richmond Catholic believes that a wiser course for the diocese would be to build on the strengths of the city’s existing Catholic schools.

Bishop ill served … again.

DiLorenzoOnce again, Bishop Francis DiLorenzo has been ill served by a Sullivan-era holdover. This time, it was the editor of the Catholic Virginian, who ran a stunningly inaccurate diatribe against the Society of Saint Pius X in the July 8 edition of the diocesan newspaper. On July 22, the CV published a statement addressing most of the inaccuracies and ending with a gracious appeal for reconciliation between Rome and the Traditionalist society:

 Let us pray for restoration of the unity of all Christians in Christ, and that the Society of St. Pius X will be reconciled with ecclesiastical authority.

Richmond Catholic commends Bishop DiLorenzo for his swift action. Regardless of how adherents of the late “Good Bishop” view the society, the new SSPX seminary in Buckingham County will soon be a part of the diocesan landscape. This is a sensitive matter that demands wisdom and charity — not reporting that would embarrass a middle school newspaper.

Clarification from Diocese of Richmond on SP X Seminary

In this week’s Catholic VirginianSeminary:

Diocesan statement regarding article on the Society of St. Pius X

A recent article in the Catholic Virginian on the Society of St. Pius X and the seminary it is constructing in Buckingham County contained inaccuracies.

The article correctly stated that the society was founded in 1970 by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary is one of several seminaries operated by the society. The society is not in regular communion with the Holy See (or the Bishop of Richmond).

These points need to be clarified:
◾The seminary is currently located in Winona, Minnesota and is relocating to Buckingham County. Mass is not regularly offered at the Buckingham location at present.
◾Our former Holy Father, Benedict XVI, never personally declared that doctrinal differences stand in the way of regularizing the canonical status of the society; nonetheless, the regularization has yet to take place.
◾ The Masses offered by priests of the society are valid. Other Sacraments celebrated in the chapels of the society are considered valid, with the exception of Penance and Matrimony, which are, at best, doubtfully valid.
◾ It is not clear that the society is in schism, and it is not properly called a “sect.” In recent years the Holy See has recognized the society’s expressed desire for regular communion with the Roman Pontiff and the Church he shepherds, and the Holy See’s dialogue with the society since 2009 demonstrates the Church’s commitment to unity.

Several additional points should be made when discussing the Society of St. Pius X:
◾ It is necessary to distinguish between the priests, brothers, and sisters of the society, on the one hand; and the lay faithful who attend Mass at society chapels, on the other hand. The former are clearly in an irregular status. In regard to the lay faithful who attend Mass at society chapels, there has never been a statement by the Holy See that these people are in schism. In fact, the Holy See acts toward them as it does toward all the Catholic lay faithful.
◾ It’s also necessary to distinguish between acts that are invalid and those that are illicit. Acts are illicit when they go against the Church’s law. Still, acts that are canonically illicit may be valid, and, in the case of the society, the ministerial acts of their priests may be illicit and still be considered valid by the Church.
◾ Finally, a comment should be made regarding the Sunday Mass obligation of Catholics. The faithful do not properly fulfill their Sunday Mass obligation in chapels of the society, as the celebration of the Eucharist presupposes not only communion with the Lord, but also communion with the Church He founded, and the hierarchy who govern the Church by Divine mandate.

The Church’s unity is best served when the whole truth is communicated. We regret the errors in the article. Let us pray for restoration of the unity of all Christians in Christ, and that the Society of St. Pius X will be reconciled with ecclesiastical authority.

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