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Posts Tagged ‘RENEW International’

For everyone following the situation of the Boston Archdiocesean Social Justice Conference that took place on Saturday, we’re pleased to give you a recap on what happened.

As blog followers know by now, this conference featured Fr. Bryan Hehir and Fr. Thomas Massaro, SJ of BC, who publicly supported the pro-abort Gov. Sebellius for Health and Human Services Secretary in the Obama administration.  Several hundred people sent faxes and emails to the Holy See and Cardinal O’Malley protesting the conference.  Though the event still went on, your efforts made a huge difference to minimize the potential harm to the Body of Christ!

Several Bryan Hehir Exosed readers attended the conference and shared details.  Attendance was only about 100 people, including archdiocesan staff, so the ruckus raised apparently helped keep people away.  We’re not sure why a Boston police officer was stationed at the front door early in the day.  Either the archdiocese was worried about this blog trying to disrupt their festive gathering,  or perhaps they thought the social justice people who are used to protesting things would form a protest to commemorate the day. 

Both Fr. Hehir and Fr. Massaro still spoke, and they avoided saying anything in their talks that was nearly as egregious as what we have documented  here on the blog.   

Fr. Hehir talked on the topic of “Charity of Justice.”  He said “to be Catholic is to be scriptural, sacramental, and social,” and his 4 themes were around life, dignity, work, and vocation.  He said in the Church’s public ministry we must be a voice for  the defense and promotion of life at every stage of life, and then said the bishops of the U.S. over the past 2 decades have said we must cultivate a ”consistent ethic of life” across the entire spectrum of life.  (Of course, as we know, the “consistent ethic of life” is an equivalent way of saying “seamless garment, ”  which is the way of having abortion be considered no more important than other issues like poverty, pornography, and capital punishment). 

One reader told us they cannot understand how Fr. Hehir has become so adept at failing to match his words and deeds.  Fr. Hehir reminded this audience that October is “Pro-Life Month” and acknowledged we need to protect life at all stages from conception to natural death, yet at a BC forum earlier this year, he said he was concerned that conscience exemptions for Catholic healthcare workers could harm the ability of a woman to get abortion services.  How can we protect life starting at conception if you are concerned about how women will get abortions that end the life before the baby is born?  And this is the second year when the Boston Archdiocese has stalled and stone-walled volunteers looking for just a modest top-level endorsement from Fr. Hehir’s secretariat  in  support of  the “40 Days for Life”  initiative supported by dozens of other dioceses.  Fr. Hehir, what gives?  When all eyes are on you, you find a way of saying the right words, but when you are not being watched closely or the rubber hits the road with actions that happen behind closed doors, it’s a different story.

Fr. Massaro’s talk  on Catholic Social Teaching never mentioned abortion specifically.  Here’s Fr Marraro’s handout.  Near the end of his talk, he briefly discussed 9 fundamental themes of Catholic social teaching,  starting with the “Dignity of Every Person and Human Rights” (see page 2 of his handout, bottom of the page).   He verbally referenced protection of life at every phase of life under the “dignity of every person” section and claimed the Vatican documents Pacem in Terris, Centessimum Arrus, and Gaudium et Spes were references for that, but our read of all 3 documents found their focus is not at all about protecting life from conception to natural death.  And Fr. Massaro, the nationally-recognied expert on Catholic social justice made the exact same mistake that Fr. Bryan Hehir made back in 1975, saying that  Pope Paul VI’s Octogesima Adveniens is also known as “A Call toAction .”  In fact, “Call to Action” is merely the title of the 4th section of the Pope Paul VI’s letter, not the name of it. 

Most of the other breakout session speakers at the event had nothing as overtly controversial in their backgrounds as those in past years, so it’s clear the Boston Archdiocese was being more careful this time around to avoid additional criticism.  Nonetheless, two names still jumped out at us—both habitless religious sisters.

Sr. Margaret (Peggy) Cummins, of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) , which helped to pass the abortion-funding Obamacare, was there, speaking on Human Trafficking.  And Sr. Honora Nolty, OP, of RENEW International was there to speak on  faith sharing.   Sr. Nolty is from the Dominican sisters of Amityville, NY.  Here’s their vision:

As prophetic witnesses in collaboration with others, we will call ourselves, the Church and society to credibility. We will be responsible members of the universe. We will promote the dignity of marginalized persons. We will reject violence in ourselves and in society in order that all Generations will grow and cherish life.  With the world as our frontier, we are open to the Spirit.

Whichever reader is the first person to find “God” in the vision statement gets a free copy of the ARISE workbook, courtesy of Bryan Hehir Exposed.   Sr. Nolty was also quoted in a NY Times article in 2005 that talked about how the sisters had to have a ‘tag sale” at the Long Island estate they owned and sold for $35 million:

In recent years, the order held non-denomination retreats and events run by a variety of organizations, but could not raise enough funds to pay the maintenance costs for the building and the grounds….Sr. Margaret said, “We walk away now trusting in the creative power of the universe to create the next thing.”

Perhaps if they had tried holding Catholic retreats there, or maybe they had replaced the “the bronze statue of a Lakota Indian woman carrying a peace pipe”–which stood outside the entrance to the Hakamé house used by the order for art classes—with a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, they would have found more success. As for “trusting in the creative powers of the universe,” we are at a loss for words.

Major appreciation to the hundreds of people who signed the letter to Cardinal O’Malley, the Papal Nuncio, and to the Vatican.  Our message got through loud and clear, and it’s obvious that they cleaned-up their act for this event to ensure that the speakers didn’t  say anything heretical or scandalous. 

But, as long as certain people are still in influential roles, there are yet more important battles ahead.

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We are delighted to have heard from Vicar General
Fr. Richard Erikson on Thursday evening in the comments on our last post about Fr. Bryan Hehir (“Fr. Bryan Hehir “Wounds Catholic Unity” by Undermining U.S. Bishops on Healthcare”) and are preparing a response to him in the next few days.  In the meantime, reader Mary Reilly, alerted us to a new blog about what is happening inside the Archdiocese of Boston, and we are intrigued by the initial posts and comments over at aptly-named Boston Catholic Insider.

So far, Boston Catholic Insider is showing some organization charts and what appears to be a “lay of the land” of how the Archdiocese functions on paper, along with the six-figure salaries of their Cabinet members.  We already knew the salaries from the financial disclosure reports, but it’s interesting to see how it all fits together, as depicted in what is apparently a published organizational chart, especially the highest-level of influence.

The depiction of  Fr. Hehir’s responsibilities validates what we have been saying here.  It cites his past salary at Catholic Charities USA as being about $96K/year.  We assume he was making at least that as President of Catholic Charities of Boston combined with his Harvard salary?   (Note: the average salary for a full professor at Harvard is $192,000). Can anyone help us find out what he is paid at Harvard for being a full professor teaching 3 courses  during the academic year?

Beyond Bryan Hehir, the content and insider comments are both interesting, and we’ve discovered a few other choice tidbits already.  For example, we knew that the communications guy, Terry Donilon, has never said a word publicly about the truths of Catholicism or teachings of the Catholic Church, but we didn’t know he had two brothers deeply entrenched in the Obama administration who also helped derail Robert Bork’s 1987 Supreme Court nomination. Here are a few more examples:

While many of us at the Pastoral Center have been on pins and needles for the last few months, the Chancellor just hired himself an assistant whose salary is over $100,000.”

Apparently the archdiocese is hiring David Thorp away from the (very liberal) Holy Family Parish in Concord for a newly created position.

Aren’t you kind to call The Concord Pastor “very liberal”. Around my house, the wife and I tell our children it’s apostasy!  Yes, the Thorpe hiring is VERY curious, isn’t it. He’s been hired for “new evangelism”. What happened to the multimillion dollar effort they put into “Renew”? Has that “liberal” program run it’s course? Didn’t rounding up retired women to convene minichurches in people’s houses work out for them?

Of course, you already know our opinion about RENEW.  Seems like this new blog is worth watching.  For those Boston Archdiocese “insiders” reading our blog, you may want to share some of your tips over there.

By the way, we googled on Boston Catholic Insider and couldn’t find the blog, but we did find this instead–a list of dissident theologian, Richard McBrien’s favorite bishops. (His list was published this month in the National Catholic Reporter).  Among those on McBrien’s list: disgraced gay Archbishop Rembert Weakland and Cardinal Joseph Bernadin (of “seamless garment” reknown)  .As you might know, Richard McBrien preached at the first Mass that Fr. Bryan Hehir celebrated after he was ordained a priest in 1966, so it all does really come back to Fr. Bryan Hehir in the end.

Have a good weekend!

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These social justice conferences are really the gift archdiocese of boston bryan hehir
that just keeps giving!  If you have not yet read 2009 Social Justice Conference: Part 1 posted yesterday, please do check that out, as well as last weeks post on the 2006 Social Justice Conference.  Now, on to our next speaker, Sr. Terry Rickard of RENEW International.

RENEW’s 3-year “ARISE:  Together in Christ” program was brought to the Boston Archdiocese to help “enliven parishes and build small Christian communities. ”  RENEW International, based in New Jersey, was founded by a group of Call to Action people who wanted to remake the Church, but lets talk about Sr. Terry first, and we’ll get to RENEW in a few moments.  You may want to grab a strong cup of coffee before continuing.

Sister Terry Rickard, OP, is a Dominican sister who doesn’t wear a habit from the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt.  I assume of course that Bryan Hehir first invited the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Sisters of Life, the Missionaries of Charity, and the Daughters of St. Paul but they were all busy that day so thats why they ended up with a representative from an order associated with both the liberal Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the liberal social justice group, NETWORK (who the  USCCB’s head, Cardinal Francis George just slammed for their position on the abortion-funding national healthcare legislation).   The website of the Dominican Sisters talks about their social justice work and “Creation of a Blauvelt Dominican Land Ethic based on the belief that the earth is the primary sustainer of life.”  Their links of interest have nothing going to the Vatican or USCCB or a diocese, but instead go to organizations like American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker organization with an extensive  LGBT rights and recognitation program who opposed the Federal marriage amendment and supports gay marriage), and United for Peace and Justice, (which has a working group focused on attacks on human/civil rights including those of women, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered [LGBT] people, people of color, and ethnic and religious minorities).  But I digress…

Sr. Terry earned a Masters of Divinity at the multi-denominiational Union Theological Seminary (“with roots firmly planted in the Protestant, Reformed tradition, the Seminary continues to reform itself in response to the changing needs of the world and an evolving understanding of what it means to be faithful”).  She also is a graduate of Aquinas Institute of St. Louis, which, according to CatholicCulture.org is “a hotbed of Dominican dissidents in America, whose previous president openly defended ‘gay’ priests and seminarians. The Aquinas Institute is affiliated with St. Louis University, a ‘Jesuit University’ which was one of the first to abdicate itself to lay leadership in the “spirit of Vatican II” in 1967.”  Nice.

To Cardinal Sean (who opened the conference with morning prayer and opening comments) and officials of the Archdiocese and the Vatican, is this really the kind of background for a speaker want at an official Catholic archdiocesen-sponsored event?

But thats just Sr. Terry.  Lets talk about RENEW.  When I heard Cardinal Sean was bringing RENEW’s program to Boston, I wanted to believe this was a different RENEW than the one I knew of back in the late ’70s and ’80s, and I assumed the Cardinal had thoroughly checked them out, and they had cleaned-up their act.  Maybe they have, as some reports would indicate, but I am just not so sure so we’ll share the information out their for you to digest yourselves as educated readers and observers.  In the interest of time, I will simply offer some references, and you can reach your own conclusions about them.

What’s Wrong With RENEW?

Renew International was founded by a coalition of Call to Action AmChurch types bent on remaking the Church in their own image. This can be seen from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops Critique of the Original Renew Program (the original Renew Program was produced in 1986), as well as from the background check of Renew 2000 contributors that came out with the subsequent program: Background Check of Renew 2000 Contributors Reveals Renew 2000 Texts Laced with Call to Action Names. An index of links critical of the heterodoxy of Renew 2000 can be found at Revealing the Truth about Renew 2000, and Dr. Regis Martin, S.T.D., Professor of Theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville (who was one of this year’s speakers at Lenoir-Rhyne College’s annual Aquinas-Luther Conference), in a review of one of the leader’s manuals, concludes that it is “seriously impaired in its content, and in its tone or spirit, alien to the ancient and Catholic faith we profess in the Creed.” First, he says, it fastidiously avoids mention of the Fatherhood of God. Second, there is a persistent tendency to divorce the Christological significance from the historical Jesus, so that the ‘Christ of faith’ has nothing to do with the ‘Jesus of history.’ Third, there is no mention of Original Sin and its treatment of the whole subject of human sinfulness is woefully inadequate. And much more (see Renew 2000 Commentary by Regis Martin, S.T.D.).

About RENEW’s Why Catholic? Program

designed by revisionists whose devious aim is to use their small group approach to refract ecclesial focus, to undermine magisterial authority, to democratize the Catholic message, to continue the AmChurch decentralization of Catholic Church in America, to continue the process of protestantizing and revising the Church and detaching her from the only moorings she has in her own traditions…

But one could argue that “ARISE: Together in Christ” is different.  Its roots are in small group faith-sharing around scripture, and it was pioneered by people from our own Boston Archdiocese’s Office for Spiritual Development.  So, what could possibly be wrong with small group faith-sharing and small Christian communities?   I don’t honestly know if ARISE is good or bad.  Read on and reach your own conclusions…

A New Experience of the Church?

What is to be made of Small Christian Communities? Do they serve or threaten the Church?  Their history presents cause for concern. Small Christian Communities (SCCs) are known, among Latin American Marxists, as “base” or “basic” communities: comunidades des base. They were fostered as vehicles of “conscientization” in liberation theology. In their book, Dangerous Memories, Bernard Lee and Michael Cowan write: “The strongest support for this movement [of SCCs] came from the Medellín conference of Latin American bishops in 1968, which faced the Church in the direction of liberation theology and basic Christian communities.”

Programs such as RENEW were also designed to be seedbeds of SCCs. The original RENEW program was developed a generation ago under the auspices of Archbishop Peter Gerety of Newark, New Jersey, one of the initial Call to Action organizers. Implemented in 1978 (soon after the initial 1976 Call to Action Conference in Detroit) it called for formation of “small communities in worship, prayer, study, evangelization and apostolic service.”

The US bishops conference examined the RENEW program in 1986 and found several areas in which the program gave cause for concern. The bishops’ report said it contained, “a definite bias toward the community model of Church,” resulting in “an imbalance which can be doctrinally misleading.”

Although the program was revamped, many of its echoes of liberation theology remained. Social action and evangelization are deliberately confused with one another. “Truth” is understood as a product of a “conscientized” people. Judgments are derived, according to RENEW’s literature, “from the collective wisdom of the group as consensus emerges from their sharing. This wisdom obviously involves the wisdom of the Spirit, alive in the community members.”

Liberationism for North America

The first step is to form base communities, which is simply the regrouping of a larger structure into smaller sections. While such restructuring may serve many useful and legitimate purposes (bible study, fellowship, prayer support, etc.), such base communities encouraged by Alinskyian organizing isolate its Catholic members from their parishes, replacing their loyalties with loyalties to the group. The group can be led toward a preset conclusion by the discussion leader/organizer. There are dangers for any such group that severs itself from the full and unequivocal teaching of the Church — as is frequently, though subtly, encouraged in the various facilitator manuals made available to small Christian communities through USCCB publications (such as RENEW) or USCCB associated organizations (such as CCHD or MACC). If the members are not well educated in their faith, they can easily be led to misinterpretations of Catholic teaching.

Compilation on Small Christian Communities

That tightly structured training and implementation of a program closely identified with notable dissidents sparked a brushfire of concern. Parish leaders conversant with national “We Are Church” demands and methodologies were alert to those same dissident themes and tactics embedded in RENEW 2000 materials. It has been pointed out that “small faith communities” (SFCs) are the strategic hallmark of Call to Action and its satellite groups, which adapted the format from socialist political agitator Saul Alinsky and his liberation-theology-style “ecclesial base communities” (see “Inside Call to Action”). The small faith community format was also used by Marxists to subvert the Church in Latin America.

Paulists RENEW 2000 is just a front for Call to Action

RENEW provides additional resources

RENEW International discussion on Catholic Answers forum

So folks there it is for now on Sr. Terry Rickard and RENEW.  I have never met her or attended a RENEW program so Sr. Terry may be a very nice and competent person.  ARISE: Together in Christ might be fine program, though I know pastors who have decided to not offer it in their parishes for some reason.  (If any pastors/priests are reading this and want to comments on RENEW, feel free to).  I am sure I will get flack from supporters of RENEW and if I am wrong, I’ll come out and admit it.  All I can say is that Sr. Terry’s own background, that of her religious order and of RENEW just don’t feel all that solid to me.  Can’t a Catholic archdiocese responsible for sharing the gospel and evangelizing society find speakers with less controversial background for a conference they officially sponsor?  Or, is this just another example of the kind of folks and organizations attracted to the “light” of Fr. Bryan hehir?  Stay tuned for more on the third speaker tomorrow.

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