Skip to comments.Karl Keating's E-letter (4/13/04): A Priest with Principles; Kerry Takes Communion
Posted on 04/14/2004 4:25:45 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
KARL KEATING'S E-LETTER
April 13, 2004
A PRIEST WITH PRINCIPLES
SEN. KERRY GOES FOR VOTES AND COMMUNIONS
Dear Friend of Catholic Answers:
Fr. Charles Murr sounds like my kind of priest. You've got to admire a guy who resigns his pastorate on principle. Here's what happened, according to "Newsday" and, especially, according to a letter Murr wrote to his flock on April 5.
St. Francis de Sales Parish, located in Manhattan, has a parish school. "No one knows what the financial condition of the school really is," said Murr, because no financial statements have been prepared since 2001. The school hasn't been paying for insurance or into its pension plan and owes the Archdiocese $638,000.
Murr tried to get the school administration to prepare financial reports but had no success, so in January he told the Archdiocese that he was going to replace the principal and vice principal. The Archdiocese approved and said it would send auditors to go over the school's records.
Finances weren't the only problem the school had. The school failed to teach the Catholic faith. The Archdiocese gives standardized religion tests, and two-thirds of the students at the school failed. "The major reason for this was that several of our teachers were not committed to teaching the Catholic faith," wrote Murr.
One teacher took students to non-Catholic religious services on Sunday instead of to Mass. Another wouldn't teach her students to make the sign of the cross. A third said that teaching that remarriage after divorce is a sin violated the students' constitutional rights. Other teachers refused to teach defined doctrines with which they disagreed.
To resolve such problems Murr appointed a new director of religious education, but the heterodox teachers "disrupted his classes, belittled him in front of his students, instructed his students to ignore him, and even spread slanderous reports about him." Murr decided not to renew those teachers' contracts. Striking back, the teachers kept their students after class, read to them the dismissal letter Murr had sent them, and worked the students into "tearful hysteria."
One might think that the Archdiocese would put down its foot. Well, it did--on Murr's neck. The chancellor ordered him to renew the employment contracts of the principal, vice principal, and teachers.
"Since I could not in good conscience, as a pastor charged with the care of souls, comply with this order, I resigned as pastor," said Murr. On April 3 the entire eight-member parish council wrote to Edward Cardinal Egan and told him that they backed Murr and that they all were resigning. The parish trustees also resigned.
The Archdiocese went into damage-control mode. A spokesman, Joseph Zwilling, said, "Such a high turnover rate was not what was best for the school or the students." Huh? What does it matter whether the turnover rate is high or low? Why should that trump whether the faith is being taught (versus being undermined) and whether the finances are in order?
JOHN KERRY TAKES COMMUNION(S)
On Easter Sunday John Kerry took Communion at a Catholic Mass. A week earlier, on Palm Sunday, he took the equivalent at an African Methodist Episcopal church. He was rebuked for neither by Church authorities.
Kerry is nominally Catholic, and he is vociferously pro-abortion. So far as I can tell, he flunks the test given in Catholic Answers' "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics": He is wrong on all five "non-negotiable" issues listed there.
He is precisely the kind of politician who should be denied Communion at Catholic parishes because his strong endorsement of abortion qualifies him as a "notorious sinner." And he should be rebuked for the sin (which is what it is) of receiving "the Lord's Supper" at a Protestant church. But his bishop has not forbade him to receive Communion and has not told him to mind his ecclesiastical manners when visiting non-Catholic churches.
What a difference four decades makes! In 1962 Leander Perez and several other Catholic politicians in Louisiana were excommunicated by New Orleans Archbishop Joseph F. Rummel. Their offense? Opposing Rummel's pleas to end racial segregation in schools.
Segregation was a Bad Thing. As bad as it was, at least it wasn't a species of homicide. But abortion is homicide, which means it is a Worse Thing. You will look in vain to find an analogue to Archbishop Rummel in today's American episcopate.
Even the level of the umbrage has changed. The discussion hasn't been about excommunicating politicians who, through their votes, end the lives of unborn children. No, the discussion has been whether these politicians should undergo the inconvenience (which is about all it would be for them) of not being able to receive Communion.
If the leaders of the Church refrain from giving even a slap on the wrist, who can take them seriously? Bishops who don't "bish" undermine their own authority, and everyone under their care suffers from that.
Maybe it's a matter of political calculation on the part of the bishops. They might be remembering what happened in San Diego a couple of decades ago, when, not long before election day, Bishop Leo T. Maher instructed pro-abortion state senator Lucy Killea not to receive Communion.
She was re-elected, and some said she would have been defeated had she not received the sympathy vote. Maybe so, but Maher did the right thing (though it would have been smarter if he had done it much in advance of election day).
November 2 is still half a year off, plenty of time for things to cool down after bishops all over the country read the sacramental riot act to hundreds of Catholic politicians. How grand it would be to see the bishops corporately doing such a thing! But don't place any bets.
G. K. Chesterton remarked that, while it would be possible for all Englishmen to take and keep a vow of silence for 24 hours, one should not wager on such an eventuality. I have a sinking feeling that GKC offered better odds than we're facing.
Until next time,
Catholic parish in disarray
BY STEPHANIE SAUL
April 7, 2004, 7:39 PM EDT
A Roman Catholic pastor resigned this week after objecting to what he called anti-Catholic teachings and bookkeeping problems at his Manhattan parish and the eight-member lay parish council went with him in a Holy Week protest aimed at the Archdiocese of New York.
The Rev. Charles Murr told parishioners Monday that he was leaving the Church of St. Francis de Sales on East 96th Street because Cardinal Edward Egan blocked his plan to shake up the school's staff.
Archdiocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling said Murr wanted to replace the principal, assistant principal and a large number of the teaching staff at St. Francis de Sales School & St. Lucy School Academy. "Such a high turnover rate was not what was best for the school or the students," Zwilling said.
In a letter posted on the Web and confirmed as authentic by Newsday, Murr said he objected to what he called Protestant and heretical Catholic teachings in the 489-pupil school.
According to a trustee, one teacher took her students to Baptist religious services. Another refused to teach the sign of the cross, and another said teaching that remarriage after divorce was a sin violated the pupils' constitutional rights.
"Several of our teachers were not committed to teaching the Catholic faith," Murr's letter said, adding that was the major reason most of the students failed standardized religion tests last June.
The parish school faces "grave" financial problems and had failed to turn over to the archdiocese $638,000 in pension and insurance payroll deductions covering several years, Murr said. No one has prepared financial statements since 2001, Murr and others said.
Murr's letter said he told many on the staff April 1 their contracts would not be renewed for next year. The Archdiocese ordered him to renew them, Murr said.
Zwilling said the Archdiocese plans to conduct an audit and the Rev. Oscar Aquino is interim administrator and will conduct Easter services.
Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.
What the hell is going on? And we expect these bishops to hold Kerry's feet to the fire?
Cardinal Egan needs to step in promptly, and do whatever it takes to bring Fr. Murr back, and let him clean up that mess.
It sure seems that way. I can't imagine a justification for his actions.
Any New Yorkers out there who can shed some light on this?
A typical modern American Catholic cardinal archbishop.
So I think there is in a sense some good news in this mess - Egan has shown that he caves under pressure from conservative Catholics. Maybe he's just a political animal and the lavender mob doesn't own him.
Desdemona is right. Egan made his annual trek to the NY State Capitol a few weeks ago, to voice his opinion on same sex marriages. Asked by local media about recent accusations made against Bishop Hubbard, Egan said he supports Bishop Howard Hubbard and the ongoing efforts to clear Hubbard's name of allegations of homosexual behavior.
I didn't remember that that was him. The picture is becoming clearer.
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