Bookmark and Share
My Photo

FROM the EDITORS:

  • IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
    Opinions expressed on the Insight Scoop weblog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Ignatius Press. Links on this weblog to articles do not necessarily imply agreement by the author or by Ignatius Press with the contents of the articles. Links are provided to foster discussion of important issues. Readers should make their own evaluations of the contents of such articles.

NEW & UPCOMING, available from IGNATIUS PRESS







































































« "His Dark Materials" movie being "stripped of key religious themes" | Main | Parts 2 and 3 of Fr. James Schall's interview... »

Monday, October 15, 2007

Comments

Catherine Harmon

I think it is interesting that the "sister" whose email ran in the bulletin takes for granted the issue that Niederauer skirted completely in his apology: that the sisters' attire - while a mockery of religious sisters - was primarily intended as an unabashed declaration of the two men's homosexuality. The archbishop acknowledges that he gave Communion to individuals whose attire is offensive to women religious, and apologized for doing so, but he never admits that he gave Communion to individuals flamboyantly flouting Church teaching on homosexuality. That is the primary problem with what he did. Giving Communion to extravagantly tricked out "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" looks, at best, like a disregard for the seriousness of violating Church teaching on homosexuality, at worst like an endorsement of homosexuality itself. This is clearly what "Delta Goodhand" took away from "her" experience at the Mass, and is precisely what the archbishop should have apologized for.

Ed Peters

This was a disaster for the Church in San Francisco. I won't ask how much longer it might be allowed to continue, for fear that I know the answer.

Nick Milne

Don't believe me? Prove it.

Did this man ever go to school?

Soledad

I wonder if a good response to this for those of us who are devout San Franciscans might be to work for the founding of a TLM "personal parish" in this Archdiocese using the guidelines of the Motu Proprio. Such a parish would model reverence for the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, maybe even offer perpetual adoration.

Paul

I agree with Soledad. The only way to fix these abuses is to push for the TLM.

Tom

Wait. Stop. First, the Latin Mass is the Mass of the Roman Rite. Perhaps you refer to the Extraordinary Form of said rite? Second, how would the Extraordinary Form solve this problem? Last time I checked, there are several parishes in San Francisco and surroundiong area that model reverence for the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass while celebrating the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite. How would one more parish correct abuses at a parish that is dead set on blasphemy?

Paul

Tom,

Here is my take on it. Firstly, the celebration of the Mass of Bl. John XXIII would set a precedence for reverence. Why you ask? For one, because it is more difficult to abuse that usage of the Roman Rite. But also because there are very few parishes, in my experience, where the new mass is celebrated without some sort of a liturgical abuse.

Secondly, in accordance with the Motu Proprio, this same mass wouldn't have to be relegated to a single "Traditional" parish. Rather, it could, and should for that matter, be practiced at parishes that regularly celebrate the ordinary form of the Roman Rite. Even if just one parish did this, it would snowball. Then, with both usages being celebrated, the laity would be able to see what true reverence is. The reverence of both laity and clergy would be transformed in the process, not only during the celebration of the extraordinary rite, but also with the ordinary usage.

Soledad

Paul, You say "if just one parish did this, it would snowball." Do you have any idea where that one parish might be?

Tom

1.) Why is it more difficult to abuse? Seems to me that where there's a will there's a way, no matter which missal you're looking at.
2.) Has what you've outlined ever happened before? I know that there's been an indul Mass in Seattle for some time, and it seems to have had zero impact on the rest of the diocese. Far more impactful are the reverent celebrations, by young priests, of the Ordinary Form.
3.) is the lack of abuse in the parishes dedicated to the extraordinary form really that surprising if they have been set up primarily to combat liturgical laxity? Would the same regard for rubrical celebration of the liturgy hold sway if, say, an entire diocese celebrated the extraordinary form?

Todd

Scandal is a fairly tricky thing to pin on all this. Lacking the non-parishioner's video, nobody would have noticed this at all. Nobody would have hurled all sorts of invective at the archbishop on those "Catholic or politically conservative news agencies."

Critics have not bothered to keep to the high road, and Catholics critical of the SPI, MHRC, and the archbishop have come off looking very muddied. Is there no scandal in believers calling a bishop "apostate" or "false shepherd" or "rotten" or otherwise? If the liberals haven't touched this story, it might be that they're embarassed for the wrath of the True Believers.

Jeff Grace

I think it's a shame and a scandal that Catholics are all too willing to do the dirty work for the people who have nothing but hate and contempt for the Catholic Church. It's obvious and clear that our archbishop does NOT condone nor approve of the actions and purpose of the so called "sisters" of perpetual indulgence... so why all the rush to condemn and decry a man who clearly was waylaid by these people in an attempt embarrass him?

I suggest we find a way to support our archbishop with a little charity and some benefit of the doubt and stop letting the Eucharist be used as a political weapon to beat each other over the head with.

Jeff Grace
SF Seminarian

John Herreid

Is it wrong to hold the Archbishop accountable for his actions? I don't think so. In this case, it's quite possible that he was "waylaid" at this parish. But on the other hand, that this parish has been allowed to continue functioning as a gay parish for so many years is a scandal. It's also a scandal that the Archbishop has been bent to accept the gay adoptions program at Catholic Charities.

Yes, Archbishop Niederauer has done some good things in the archdiocese, such as supporting the local pro-life movement. But he has also been pretty weak in other areas.

The name-calling by some critics is unbecoming. But, face it--they don't have the power and responsibility to fix these things. When a leader of the Church is derelict in his duties, it's far worse than some anonymous individual in a combox on some blog being rude.

So, yes--we should support the Archbishop when he apologizes for his actions. We should support him when he does good. But we should also push him hard to correct the many, many things that are still very wrong in this archdiocese.

Jeff Grace

Of course we hold people accountable for their actions including archbishops. Watch the tape that someone has so charitably provided the world and you'll see that the archbishop hesitated then started to give the guy a blessing. Words were exchanged (and I'm guess it was something along the lines of "I'm Catholic" "Are you in a state of Grace?" "Yes"... so communion was given. I'm guessing... maybe giving the archbishop the benefit of the doubt... but I don't see how, after the archbishop has made it clear that he didn't recognize these people as members of a group that mock the Church, you can claim that all you're doing is holding him accountable for his actions. Do you honestly believe he was meaning to endorse the agenda of the "sisters" of perpetual indulgence???

What is very clear to me is that the eucharist... OF ALL THINGS... is being used by catholics as a weapon to not only beat each other over the head with but also slam their archbishops and bishops around with. This is unconscionable. I think it would do us all a bit of good if we stepped back, took a breather, and realize what it is that's happening here: We're doing the work of those who hate the Church. All they have to do is create a situation and we're there to record it and then gather around the archbishop like a pack from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, screeching as we raise our arms and point to him.

I don't think I'm too off the mark when I say we are trampling on the body and blood of Our Lord by doing this. How about spreading some of that accountability around a little bit?

Jeff Grace
SF Seminarian

Mark Brumley

Of course extremists who are declaring Archbishop Niederauer "apostate", "false shepherd", etc. are off the deep end. This is unacceptable. Can we all agree about that here? Can we agree that this repudiation of such rhetoric stands as we discuss other issues here?

If we can all agree on that point and if we don't have constantly to repeat it, perhaps we can confront the important issue of whether in giving Holy Communion to men dressed as women and wearing clown white face and ruby-red lipstick and high heels the Archbishop made an error in judgment.

He says he did. He has apologized for giving them Holy Communion. What led the Archbishop, in hindsight, to think so? He said that the men in question mocked women religious and they turned out to be from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

I think the Archbishop should be commended for admitting a mistake and apologizing for it, even though, initially, he defended his action by discussing the reverence of the celebration at MHF, describing the incident merely as involving "two strangely dressed persons" or words to that effect, and stating that women religious attending the Mass did not express concern afterward regarding the incident. Is the implication we are to draw from that statement that we shouldn't be concerned, either?

In any event, it seems legitimate to ask whether there isn't more to the matter to be considered, even after the Archbishop's apology. For instance:

1. If the men dressed as women and wearing white-face, ruby-red lipstick and high heels had not been Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, would it have still been wrong to give Holy Communion to such people? Canon 915, among other things, would indicate the answer is "yes".

2. Should a minister of Holy Communion, much less a bishop, under such circumstances be able to recognize that such persons ought not to receive Holy Communion, regardless of whether they are specifically mocking women religious or happen to be members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence? The answer, according to canon 915, among other things, would seem to be "yes".

3. Is it a reasonable inference that a person who has stressed that the judgment of whether or not someone communicates at Mass is a matter for the individual's conscience and who has said that he is not primarily a gatekeep with respect to the Eucharist, might tend to render the wrong judgment, according to canon 915, among other things, when he is caught by surprise and approached by two men in women's clothing wearing clown white-face, high heels, and ruby-red lipstick, seeking Holy Communion? It would seem so.

4. Is it legitimate for intelligent observers of the Church scene to note a likely connection between such a man's general outlook and attitude toward giving Holy Communion, as expressed in his published statements, and what he chose to do when confronted by two men dressed in women's clothing, high heels, white-face, with ruby-red lipstick seeking to receive Holy Communion? Canon 212 § 3 would seem to say so: "In accord with the knowledge, competence and preeminence which they possess, they have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinions on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard for the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons".

Are some critics manifesting a lack of due reverence toward their pastors and a lack of consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons? It seems plain that some are. Does this mean that anyone who expresses criticism of the Archbishop's handling of this matter lacks due reverence and consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons? It is hard to see how this can be so, unless any criticism ipso facto amounts to that, which is absurd.

Some canons to keep in mind:

"Those who are excommunciated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion" (Canon 915).

Please note that 915 doesn't say simply that such persons may be denied Holy Communion. It says that they are not to be admitted to Holy Communion. That's the law of the Church, which is one of the points Archbishop Burke makes in his article. Everyone who opines on this question here would do well to read the article.

"A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or to receive the Body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession unless a grave reason is present and there is no opportunity of confessing ..." (Canon 916).

We should all continue to pray for Archbishop Niederauer, but that does not preclude a charitable, even if in some respects uncomfortable and pointed, discussion of what he did and its implications for the Church.

Sharon

"A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or to receive the Body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession unless a grave reason is present and there is no opportunity of confessing ..." Canon 916.

Here in Australia young men have been told that 'grave reason' can mean having to go to Mass with the parents on Sunday - 'the embarrasment factor.'

Mark Brumley

Here in Australia young men have been told that 'grave reason' can mean having to go to Mass with the parents on Sunday - 'the embarrasment factor.'

It never ceases to amaze me what young men are told, in Australia or elsewhere.

John Herreid

Jeff, it sounds like you consider the main sin and scandal of this situation is that people expected the Archbishop to follow Canon Law. How is this using the Eucharist as a weapon?

I really don't get your stance on this. It seems almost willfully obtuse.

Mark Brumley

Okay, boys. Let's play nice.

Mark Brumley

Scandal is a fairly tricky thing to pin on all this. Lacking the non-parishioner's video, nobody would have noticed this at all. Nobody would have hurled all sorts of invective at the archbishop on those "Catholic or politically conservative news agencies."

The people in attendance, including the men dressed as nuns in high heels, white face, and lipstick who are militantly opposed to much of Catholic teaching, would have known about it and been scandalized--in the theological sense of the term, not the "scandal sheet" sense. The objective act of sacrilege would still have occurred.

That the wider public has come to know this occurred has resulted in the Archbishop apologizing--a good thing, since the action itself warranted it--and others being made aware that this is not appropriate.

Jeff Grace

Mark,

All those laws you quote might apply if the archbishop knew the communicants that approached him were in a state of mortal sin. My granting of the benefit of the doubt leads me to guess that the words we see exchanged were something along the lines of "are you in a state of grace?" wherepon communion was given when the answer was "yes". Outside of the archbishop calling the communicant a liar, what else could he have done other than what he did?

All I'm saying is, rather than hand the archbishop his head on a platter, can't we exercise some charity and stand beside him ... especially when he's the target of an attempt to embarrass the Church by such a confrontation? I honestly have difficulty imputing sinister intent to our archbishop... and I think we should grant him a little grace when he is being harrassed in such a manner.

As far as the Eucharst being turned into a battlefront, I still think we all need to pray for forgiveness in that regard. Call me dense if you will, but I think Our Lord deserves something better than this.

Ed Peters

Brumley's posts say it all. Correctly.

Ed Peters

Jeff, forgive a comment approaching the personal here, but, not only are you just not getting it, you're not getting with a vengence. You need to, 1) stop guessing at what might have been said (as if that is relevant anyway), 2) read canons 915 and 916 carefully, 3) read some good commentary on both canons (I have plenty on my sites), 4) and stop painting your adversaries with at least as much hyperbole as you claim they are using.

I regret that I won't see any follow-ups on this for at least 5 days. I think it a very important issue. You know I'd be happy to reason through this with you.

Ed Peters

(Jeff's post was not visible when I posted my affirmation of Brumley's points. Thus the post to Jeff.)

Mark Brumley

Jeff: Your desire to avoid seeing uncharitable comments directed towards the Archbishop of San Francisco is commendable. If people are being uncharitable, they should cease being uncharitable. However, it is not per se uncharitable to comment on or even criticize public actions of church leaders, even archbishops, as my reference to Canon 212 makes clear. That does not amount to attributing "sinister intent" to the Archbishop.

With respect to the issue of disposition of the recipients, your statement, "All those laws you quote might apply if the archbishop knew the communicants that approached him were in a state of mortal sin", is wrong. Canon 915, which is "one of those laws" I quote, doesn't pertain to the issue of the subjective dispositions of the would-be recipient. Thus, as far as that law is concerned, it isn't an issue of whether the Archbishop asked the men dressed like nuns, in high heels, white face, and ruby-red lipstick, whether they thought themselves to be in the state of grace, disgrace or North Dakota. Or whether he asked if they were Catholics. Or what their favorite TV shows were or any number of other things. The issue I raised here is not the subjective dispositions of those asking to receive the Eucharist, but the responsibility of the minister of Holy Communion under the law of the Church. On this point, I must simply ask you to please read canon 915 and read Archbishop Burke's article on the subject: http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/holycom/denial.htm

Then perhaps we can avoid red herrings in this discussion, such as whether the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence thought they were in the state of grace. Thanks.

Mark Brumley

Thanks, Dr. Peters. I just notice your kind comments.

Jeff Grace

Mark, I'm not talking about whether or not the "sisters" thought they were in a state of grace. Maybe I'm missing the point of the canons you quote but it seems clear to me that they address the responsibilty of the minister. What's being asserted here in your posts is that our archbishop was irresponsble in exercising his repsonisbilites and you quoted those canons to support this. I'm saying that, from what we can gather... what we see on the tape... he did the responsible thing. Only he and the "sister" knows what words were exchanged. I'm just asking what's so hard about giving him the benefit of the doubt by guessing he did exchange words about their current disposition... and if they lied about it, then is that his fault? I happen to think he did what he thought best given the situation and I don't understand the rush to judgment against him.


Mark Brumley

Jeff, you start out well enough by indicating that you are not addressing the issue of whether the "sisters" were in the state of grace. But then you revert to the question of what was said in the exchange and whether that exchange involved indication of their disposition.

My point is that that is not the issue. It isn't a question of giving the Archbishop the benefit of the doubt. The Archbishop himself has already said that he shouldn't have given the men dress up like nuns, wearing clown face, high heels, and lipstick Holy Communion. The fact that he apologized for having given Holy Communion to them implies that he acknowledges fault for having done so. He is to be commended for apologizing. And I have said as much.

The issue is, Did the Archbishop follow canon 915? It seems clear that he did not. That does not mean he is an apostate or a heretic or a wicked person, etc. So the simple assertion that he did not do what he was obliged to do under canon 915 does not entail a "rush to judgment".

Why is it important whether canon 915 was followed? Because we are in the middle of a debate about the principles regarding distribution of Holy Communion to people who identify themselves with the Catholic Church but who take very public stances at odds with central teachings of Catholicism. Canon 915 is one canon among others that has something to say about the matter.

The question some critics have raised is whether the general stance the Archbishop has expressed re: giving Holy Communion--leaving the matter to the discernment of the individual seeking communion and not being "primarily a gatekeeper"--contributed to his misjudgment (remember, he acknowledges making a mistake) in giving Holy Communion to these men dressed as caricatures of nuns. It seems reasonable to think that it did contribute to his mistake. His action was consistent with things he has said before on the subject. And people who hear other bishops talk as Archbishop Niederauer did about Holy Communion are rightly concerned that other abuses are occurring and will occur.

Other critics have raised the question of whether it is sufficient to characterize the problem of what happened at Most Holy Redeemer as giving the Eucharist to men who were "mocking women religious". Such critics argue that sacrilege regarding the Holy Eucharist and giving scandal re: the Church's teaching about chastity are also involved. These are things that the Archbishop didn't address or didn't address to any degree in his column/apology. And it is the case that already people associated with MHR parish are saying that the Archbishop's visit and his giving Holy Communion to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence show he is sympathetic to their perspective re: same-sex activity. I don't think that is true, but the Archbishop's comments do not clearly repudiate such a conclusion. There is such a thing as acting in a way that one's actions can reasonably be understood as sending mixed messages, even if that is not what one intends.

Let's all agree to continue to pray for Archbishop Niederauer that he will have the wisdom, prudence and courage needed to lead the Archdiocese of San Francisco, including confronting evils that exist and calling them by name. That, too, can be "charitable" and it is certainly part of a bishop's ministry, even in San Francisco.

Jeff Grace

Mark, you said: "Jeff, you start out well enough by indicating that you are not addressing the issue of whether the "sisters" were in the state of grace. But then you revert to the question of what was said in the exchange and whether that exchange involved indication of their disposition."

Mark, re-read what I said. What words were exchanged are important to the issue of whether or not our archbishop was negligent. IF they indicated to him they were in a state of grace THEN he was not negligent in giving them communion. What would you have him do, call them liars and then refuse them communion? Would that have satisfied the legal requiremnt you accuse him of neglecting? He has said he didn't KNOW they were members of a group that mock the Church. I guess we can call him a liar, at worst or naive at best, and then hold him in violation of canon law... but that seems uncharitable and ill-spirited to me. That's all I'm saying.

Carl Olson

Wow. Go to a theology reading group and I miss all of the discussion here!

Paul

I would like to add my two cents here. It seems to me that the idea of these men being in a state of grace is absurdly off the mark. How could they be when they are dressing as women - an action which is suitably condemned by the Church and the Bible? Therefore, it didn't take any questioning by the Archbishop in order to determine that they should or shouldn't receive communion. They simply shouldn't have been given communion.

Mark Brumley

Jeff, I have read and re-read what you wrote many times. I understand your point. In fact, I repeated your point in what I wrote. You think the words exchanged between the Archbishop and the Sisters determine whether the Archbishop was negligent in giving the men Holy Communion. You can declare that this is so as many times as you want. It does not engage the point I and others have raised, which is that even if the exchange you suppose may have happened did happen, under canon 915 the Archbishop should not have given Holy Communion to two men dressed like women, etc., regardless of whether he knew them to belong, specifically, to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence or thought they were mocking nuns. It was sufficient that they were men dressed like women, in high heels, in white clown face, etc.

So:

1. It is not an issue of their dispositions or their exchange with the Archbishop (or the exchange of one of them with the Archbishop), even if they claimed what you suppose them to have said.

2. It is not an issue of the Archbishop's not knowing that these men dressed like women were members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence or that they were mocking nuns

3. It is an issue of these men being dressed as women, etc., presenting themselves to receive Holy Communion

4. It is an issue of the obligation of the minister of Holy Communion vis-a-vis an objective situation, rather than subjective dispositions, according to canon 915.

5. And it is an issue, of objective disrespect shown to the Eucharist and an issue of scandal--in the moral-theological sense--caused to the men dressed like women and almost certainly to some others in the congregation who witnessed the incident.

What would I have had the Archbishop do, call the men dressed as women liars and deny them Communion? I would have the Archbishop not address the issue in the communion line of whether they were liars even if, as you speculate, they claimed to be in the state of grace. I would have him say, "Gentlemen, you are not appropriately attired to receive Holy Communion. I know you may not understand that statement and you won't agree with it. This is not the place for us to discuss it. Please stand aside. I would be happy to talk about the matter later with you. And I will pray for you."

You should read canon 915. You should read Archbishop Burke's analysis of it and you should read the commentaries that Dr. Peters, a canon lawyer who has researched this specific issue, has recommended to you. That way, as you pursue your seminary studies and take a course on canon law, you'll be able to discuss the subject from an informed position, and not make the rudimentary mistakes that I think Dr. Peters hinted that you are making.

Otherwise, we're wasting our time talking about the issue here and the time of everyone who is reading this blog.

Jeff Grace

Mark, at the risk of this deteriorating into "you read...no YOU read..." did you read what the archbishop wrote? I read Canon 915... and it applies if the archibishop KNEW the people presenting themselves were mocking the Church or were not in a state of grace. If you read what the archbishop said in his apology, he didn't recognize their strange garb as being mock religious habits. It might have been a challange to him to recognize that they were even males in female clothing and makeup. Short of calling him a liar, how can you say he violated canon 915?

Mark Brumley

Jeff, if he couldn't perceive that the men were men inappropriately attired, then he had no business giving out communion because his eyesight is so poor or his judgment is so bad he can't fulfill his obligations under canon 915. In any case, I am no longer discussing this matter with you here. You simply don't know enough about the subject. Sorry.

Jeff Grace


Mark, we simply disagree... no need to call me an ignoramus, even if I are one. :)

Mark Brumley

To be ignorant on a point is not necessarily to be an ignormaus. To point out that someone doesn't know enough on a subject to debate the issue competently is not to call him an ignoramus.

Finis.

Jeff Grace

Ah! Not an ignoramus but just incomptent. Never mind... :)

Spirit of Vatican II

"the sisters' attire - while a mockery of religious sisters - was primarily intended as an unabashed declaration of the two men's homosexuality. The archbishop acknowledges that he gave Communion to individuals whose attire is offensive to women religious, and apologized for doing so, but he never admits that he gave Communion to individuals flamboyantly flouting Church teaching on homosexuality. That is the primary problem with what he did. Giving Communion to extravagantly tricked out "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" looks, at best, like a disregard for the seriousness of violating Church teaching on homosexuality, at worst like an endorsement of homosexuality itself."

Homosexuality is not sinful in Catholic teaching; you should say "homosexual acts". The Bishops could well argue that the two communicants' attire had not obvious reference to such acts.

As to the Scandal alleged, remember the category of "Pharisaic scandal" --
and how Jesus dealt with it.

Spirit of Vatican II

"if the archibishop KNEW the people presenting themselves were mocking the Church or were not in a state of grace."

Quite, and in San Francisco, with its carnivalesque local culture, it is no doubt better to err on the side of "turning a blind eye" than to risk coming across yet again as touchily homophobic.

By the way, if men wearing female garb is a nono in church, we had better rethink liturgical costumes!

Mark Brumley

By the way, if men wearing female garb is a nono in church, we had better rethink liturgical costumes!

Is this a comment that we're supposed to take seriously?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Ignatius Insight

Twitter


Ignatius Press


Catholic World Report


WORTHY OF ATTENTION:




















Blogs & Sites We Like

June 2018

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Blog powered by Typepad