An Ecumenical Ministry in the Parish of St Patrick's Catholic Church In San Diego USA


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Biden, Communion and the functional schism in the US church


Welcome to Wednesday. A number of young restorationist or traditionalist pastors in the Charlotte Diocese are trained in a liturgical tradition foreign to most Vatican II Catholics. NCR political columnist Michael Sean Winters says both George Weigel and Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez's recent statements about President Joe Biden fall short of acknowledging the failings of Biden's predecessor.  

In came Latin, incense and burned books, out went half the parishioners

About four years ago, Fr. Matthew Codd, the then-pastor at St. Elizabeth of the Hill Country Parish in Boone, North Carolina, was joined by a group of seminarians who went through the church's theology library and removed books deemed heretical, including those of spiritual writers Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton. The books were later burned.

The spirit of hyper-orthodoxy in parish leadership continued after Codd was replaced in July 2019 by Fr. Brendan Buckler.

Buckler is among a number of pastors in the Charlotte Diocese who are dubbed restorationists, traditionalists, or, in some cases, rad-trads. They are often younger than other priests — Buckler was ordained in 2011 for the Raleigh Diocese — and they are trained in a liturgical tradition foreign to most Vatican II Catholics.

Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte has invited them into his diocese and they now lead a number of parishes, much to the chagrin of some older clergy, who, mostly quietly, question their bishop's judgment. Jugis recently opened a junior seminary to help train future pastors in a similar mold.

You can read more of the story here.

Biden, Communion and the functional schism in the US church

According to NCR political columnist Michael Sean Winters, George Weigel did the church a great service when he published an article in First Things applauding Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez's churlish statement about Joe Biden on Inauguration Day. 

"Apparently, and unsurprisingly, Weigel knows about the inner workings of the U.S. bishops' working group formed to deal with the Biden administration, and he confirmed what many of us had suspected," Winters writes. "Not content to have rained on Biden's inaugural parade, the 'second initiative proposed by the Working Group was the development of a conference statement on the Church's eucharistic coherence.' "

Both Weigel and Gomez complained, in addition to abortion, about Biden's position in favor of same-sex marriage, his different understanding of the need to balance religious liberty claims with other legal rights, and his commitment to making contraception more available to women no matter where they are employed.

However, writes Winters, both Weigel and Gomez failed to acknowledge an important fact: that Biden's predecessor had brought the country to the abyss in many ways.

You can read more of Winters' column here.

More background:

  • President Joe Biden's inaugural address was a better articulation of Catholic ideas about governance than any recent document from the U.S. bishops' conference, says Winters in a previous column.

Building a Common Future

This week, we continue our series, Building a Common Future, in which we asked Catholic politicians, activists and scholars to offer advice to President-elect Joe Biden.

"Building our common future: It's what the United States, indeed, the entire world needs right now," we wrote in an editorial introducing the series.

Don't miss the commentary on the environment from Terry Sloan, director of Southwest Native Cultures in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "I would like to see a formal declaration from the government that climate change is real," Sloan writes. "Acknowledging that throughout the government is the first step. The next step is to use existing guidelines to look at differences in different regions of the country and the best steps for mitigating climate change in each, including moving toward renewable energy and electric cars, minimizing our carbon footprint and providing incentives to do these things."

Here is where you can read Monday's commentary from Melissa Rogers and E.J. Dionne Jr. on religious liberty.

Read the rest of Sloan's commentary here.

More headlines

  • In the latest Francis Effect podcast, NCR executive editor Heidi Schlumpf, Franciscan Fr. Daniel Horan and David Dault discuss the subtle Catholicism of the Biden inauguration, the back-and-forth between president of the U.S. bishops' conference, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, and Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, and the brief but ominous life of the 1776 Report. All of the episodes can be found here.
  • When President Joe Biden attended Mass Jan. 24, he heard a homily that was a plea for his fellow Catholics to see opposition to the death penalty as essential to the church's pro-life stance.
  • A new pastoral guidebook provides a roadmap for pastors, parishes and dioceses to ingrain Pope Francis' encyclical, "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," into their liturgies and the life of their church.
  • The Vatican rejected lay experts' determination that a half-dozen claims of sexual abuse were credible and instead slapped retired Cheyenne, Wyoming, Bishop Joseph Hart on the wrist for what it called "flagrant" imprudent behavior.

Final thoughts

Mark your calendars to join us tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. Central, 2:30 p.m. Eastern as NCR opinion editor Olga Segura talks about our Building a Common Future series with guests Dwayne David Paul, director of the Collaborative Center for Justice, and Michael Vazquez, religion and faith director at the Human Rights Campaign. You can watch the event on Facebook or on our YouTube channel.

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