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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Religious Syncretism in the Diocese of Arlington

My friend, Jane, was deeply disturbed by a front page article in the Arlington Catholic Herald  (7/2/13) depicting an ecumenical service at the diocesan Cathedral of St. Thomas More where Buddhists, Muslims, and Protestants all prayed in their traditions for religious liberty. The picture in the Herald appears to have an open tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament removed (Thank God!), but the event contributes to the widespread belief that all religions are the same (syncrectism). See my comments and links after Jane's letter.

Open Letter to Bishop Loverde about His Fortnight of Freedom at St. Thomas More Cathedral

Freedom? Liberty?

Sorry, no. Neither was honored at this event. Truth was discredited. The sanctuary was desecrated. Christ was offended. The cathedral should be re-consecrated.

Have all the martyrs of the last two millennia suffered and died in vain? Perhaps the patron of this cathedral, St. Thomas More, should have tried to find common ground with Henry VIII instead of losing his head. Why didn't he dialogue? Maybe because there are some things that must remain black and white and never be smeared into a murky gray.

The primary responsibilities of a bishop are to teach and safeguard the Faith. Neither occurred at this fortnight event. Instead, Bishop Loverde placed the One True Church established by Jesus Christ on equal footing with the false religions of the world, with those that are not even Christian. Bishop Loverde’s actions neither taught Truth nor safeguarded it. He sat in the pew with the rest of the congregation, while surrendering his leadership and Christ’s sanctuary to those of erroneous beliefs. This successor to the Apostles allowed Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, and Mormons to enter therein and stand before the Tabernacle. Would St. Francis Xavier have engaged in such syncretism?

Unchanging Truth was compromised and defiled on the altar of Relativism and Dialogue. Will dialoguing get these unbaptized persons into heaven? What about the impression of Catholics who attended or read this story? One religion must be as good as another is the conclusion many will draw, otherwise, they will reason, this event would never have taken place.

Authentic freedom means to be free to profess the Truth. Genuine liberty has to be distinguished from license--liberty to think and act according to our properly formed consciences--not to follow feelings or emotions. The bishop must respect and obey God before man.

If Bishop Loverde sincerely cared for the souls of the people he invited into the cathedral that night, with all his heart and soul he would have professed the Truth of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Bishop Loverde has failed in his obligations before Jesus Christ and before his fellow man. He has given an example of grave error, scandal.

The Catholic Church is NOT a/the One World Religion.

St. John Fisher, pray for our prelate.

Jane S. Elliot

Front Royal, VA

 In view of the collapse of catechesis and the confusion of so many Catholics about the faith, this event could only add to the chaos. Holding it in the preeminent church of the diocese made the confusion even worse. According to the article, Fr. Daniel Rooney who heads the Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Commission clarified the event this way, "It was not an evening of praying together, said Father Rooney, but gathering to pray in one another’s presence." Unfortunately, that is NOT the impression given by the Herald article: 
Catholics, Mormons, Lutherans and Anglicans joined chanting saffron-robed Buddhist monks, a Hindu man who read from the sacred Rig-Veda in Sanskrit and a Muslim who quoted passages from the Quran. All were there to show common support for religious liberty.
How does a Catholic "join" the chanting of Buddhist monks? Buddhist philosophy which strives toward emptiness is directly opposed to Catholic teaching calling on the Holy Spirit to "fill the hearts of the faithful." The "interreligious" choir, led by the Cathedral music director, sang God Bless America. Is that not a "religious" song? Isn't singing hymns together a form of praying together?

Certainly there is no problem with a meeting of different religions to cooperate in fighting evil. It often happens at U.N. conferences where Catholics, Protestants, and non-Christians form coalitions to oppose the population control juggernaut. A conference in the church hall of various churches to form a fighting alliance to combat the HHS mandate makes sense and, frankly, would have been more useful. But to hold what is unquestionably an ecumenical religious prayer service at the Cathedral, even before an empty tabernacle, is deeply troubling. Let the Buddhists and Hindus pray in their own temples and the Muslims pray in their mosques. I agree with Jane that the Cathedral was desecrated by this event.

Fr. Bernard Green has written about the dangers of syncretism and here is just a taste of his excellent article:
The syncretistic tendency can be defined as the attempt to appropriate ideas and practices from a variety of spiritual traditions without any attempt to discriminate their truth or value on the basis of Catholic faith. One way in which the equality and compatibility of various religions is justified is by subsuming their various dimensions under generic categories. So, the writings of different religions are all put on the same level by being labeled "sacred." [Note the article's description of the Hindu's "sacred Rig-Veda.] Similarly, different deities are subsumed under the general category of the Transcendent, and various rituals are all considered to serve the same function of contacting and establishing unity with the Transcendent.
Keep in mind that syncretism is essentially religious indifferentism which is a sin against the first commandment. Pray for Bishop Loverde and all who were involved in planning this head-shaking event. Share cookies and lemonade with Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Protestants -- not prayer services! 


Lynne said...

Syncretism is a secular word. I would use Indifferentism which is a heresy. The Diocese of Arlington, isn't that where the SSPX is building a large seminary? Amazing co-incidence.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

No, the SSPX seminary is in the Diocese of Richmond where the faith nearly disappeared under Bishop Walter Sullivan and is still a wasteland. I just came back from visiting a friend. We went to morning Mass in Lynchburg where the priest wore a white chasuble and a red stole for the feast of a martyr and skipped the lavabo. Of course, why should he pray for the Lord to "wash away my sins" when there is no such thing? Fortunately, we went to mass in Amherst the next day. The priest there is faithful and follows the rubrics. There are a few in Richmond.

David Martin said...

I'm glad to see this run in Les Femmes. This is an excellent piece, and indisputable. I pray everyone reads it.

What makes this all the more atrocious is that this wasn't some isolated event at a local parish, but was part of a general program the USCCB had put together, with their own prelate capping the series with a special Mass at the Washington Basilica. The rationale used is identical to that put forth in the Vatican II document on Religious Liberty, Dignitatis Humanae, which teaches that "men should act on their own judgment" in choosing their religious path. "God has regard for the dignity for the human person whom he himself created and man is to be guided by his own judgment and he is to enjoy freedom." (11) What ever happened to "The Lord is my shepherd" who "guides my steps?"

The other documents emphasize how we have to all get together and be one universal religion that "knows no divisions." When you add it up it all comes out to "it is our right to choose and merge with other religions." It's all very pro-choice. But as the article rightly points out, authentic liberty is not licentiousness or the right to error, but the right to do what is right so that we can be liberated from wrong. Even John Paul II made this quite clear.

What keeps coming to mind is Our Lord's warning: "When My Church and the world become one the end is at hand."

David Martin


Anonymous said...

Assisi Interfaith Prayer Meeting Arlington-style

Anonymous said...

"God Bless America" was written by a Frankfurt Schooler non-Christian who also wrote "White Christmas" and "Easter Parade". Cloying pieces which seem meant to make people sick, rather than proud, of Christianity. That was always the Frankfurter mission.

Anonymous said...

This "event" and others like it, take their cue from the Vatican, particularly John Paul II. Essentially, they are doing what the Pope did so how can we criticize it? The SSPX are correct in their objection to Dignitatis Humanae. It does not follow Tradition. What we have is another religion but not the Catholic one. Quote from Bella Dodd, School of Darkness: “In the 1930′s we (Communists) put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within . . . Right now they are in the highest places in the Church . . . you will not recognize the Catholic Church.”
Mrs. T

Dymphna said...

This is horrible. Bishop Loverde is such a mystery to me. I can't begin to understand why he does the things he does.

Morgan said...

I have a church near where I live and when I asked if the priests were Franciscan or Jesuit, the woman on the phone said they were Diocesan priests.

I've never heard of such a thing. She tried to explain that they were priests that served where needed in the community. This church was attached to a Catholic grammar school. Can someone, please, explain, what is a Diocesan priest? Thank you.

Lynne said...

Thanks for the correction about the seminary!

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Morgan, the bishop of every diocese has a responsibility to provide priests for the parishes in his jurisdiction. He accepts candidates and sends them to a seminary for preparation. He ordains those seminarians, if they complete the program, for service within his diocese. They are "incardinated" specifically for the diocese.

Order priests, on the other hand, are ordained for a particular religious order. The Franciscans, for example, do not answer to a diocesan bishop, but to the head of the order. They serve in a diocese at the request of the bishop.

In my diocese we have several parishes that are administered by order priests. I think it's generally because a bishop does not have enough diocesan priests to serve and requests an order to assist him by sending priests there. We have five or six parishes in Arlington that are in the hands of Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, the Holy Ghost Fathers, and the Franciscans. But they all serve with permission of the bishop. They are not parishes attached to the religious orders. They are all diocesan parishes.

c matt said...

The Catholic Church is NOT a/the One World Religion

Now here I disagree with you - the Catholic Church / Catholicism exactly is THE ONE world religion. At least, THE ONE with the fullness of truth.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

C Matt, If this is not a tongue-in-cheek comment (which I suspect it is), I think you missed Jane's point which is that the Church does not espouse the amalgamation of all the beliefs of the world's religions into one pot of watered down, tasteless porridge.