Deadly Silence

by Pauly Fongemie

PART 1-------------------------PART 2

Part 1

Our parish is conducting a Lenten Retreat for the first time in many years that I recall, the last time was as goofy an experience as could possibly be, unbecoming or worthy of any spiritual exercise that purports to be Catholic. I promised myself, "Never again!" Things overall have improved in the Diocese of Portland, Maine, with our bishop right on the ball with the current assaults on the sanctity of life, marriage, and constitutional freedoms. Not only has he set the tone, he is seeing that our seminarians and newer ordained priests have a proper foundation for the sacerdotal state; the number of men answering the call is on the rise, praise our Good God, but also praise to Bishop Malone. But, lest any Maine Catholic who is serious about the Faith thinks he can let his guard down a bit, he is being capricious.

When the announcement appeared in the Sunday bulletin about Fr. "Rusty"
Shaughnessey coming to be our retreat master in March, nothing of substance concerning his background was provided. Just the name "Rusty" struck a discordant chord. The dignity of the priesthood is so sublime, that while priests often use a shortened form of their first names, never have I known a nickname to supersede the given name, whether in formal address or titled mentions. The meter of the matter was reminiscent of the immature - I could not put my finger on it exactly - but an alarm went off in my head and that old feeling of dread crept back into my heart. Since the devil is often found in the details, it was time for a little research.

I was not exactly surprised by this time to learn the following:

Fr. Shaughnessey, a Franciscan, is with the San Damiano Retreat center in Danville, California, ostensibly Catholic but not really. He is often paired at parish retreats with the infamous Fr. Jim Schexnayder of the Oakland diocese. This priest is well known in what they call "gay circles" and is a notorious dissenter of sorts. I came across him almost a lifetime ago when he was a resource for some of the local dissenters [sexual matters mostly]. These wayward priests who were not as they should be as we later learned taught us in subtle ways to dilute the Catholic Faith, etc. Now, I know that Fr. Schexnayder is not coming with him, but this is not relevant actually. The fact that he sees nothing wrong in his public association in a ministry is relevant. It matters not that the purpose for which Fr. Shaughnessey is coming has little if anything at all to do with New Ways Ministry from what I understand, but that he speaks in the carefully nunaced language that is part and parcel of the modern dissenter, whether intentioned or not; sometimes dissenters actually believe they are doing the right thing [see below for the second part of this column]; this is to their good, of course, in that for the moment they are ignorant in good faith. However, this fact does not prevent undue harm to the faithful who may be influenced by them.

Note carefully the terms of novelty, false spirituality, misleading jargon, and garbled Church history that I highlight in bold, who and what do they remind you of. The first paragraph below is from the San Damiano web site and the others, infra, are a compilation from various related web sites, including the single sentence, which was actually a headline.

"Since 1961, the Franciscan Friars, of the Province of St. Barbara, have welcomed to San Damiano Retreat those who thirst for a greater connection to God. We are a sanctuary of transformation for people of different faiths and backgrounds. The peace and beauty of our gardens and spacious grounds offer a serene place where individuals, groups, and organizations (both religious and secular) may reflect on new insights … new choices… new decisions. Through innovative and relevant retreats and spiritual direction, individuals can discover Gospel answers to today's challenging questions. San Damiano is truly a spiritual oasis."

"I Am Who I Am” Priest duo again to lead spiritual get-together for “Gay and Lesbian Catholics” at the order’s retreat house in Danville.

 As they did last year, Oakland diocesan priest, Fr. Jim Schexnayder and Franciscan Father Rusty Shaughnessy, will direct a "Gay and Lesbian Catholics Retreat" at San Damiano Retreat House at Danville, in the Oakland diocese. In 1992, Schexnayder attended a national conference in Chicago sponsored by the New Ways Ministry and led a workshop there on developing diocesan ministries. The workshop was well attended and Jim invited interested persons to continue communication after the conference. The April 25-27 retreat, "I Am Who I Am – By the Grace of God,” will focus on the U.S. bishops 1998 pastoral message Always Our Children’s affirmation that “You are also of God, gifted and called for a purpose in God’s design," says a retreat advertisement.  Always Our Children was a statement issued by the Bishops' Committee on Marriage and Family to the parents of homosexual children, and some bishops complained after it was made public that they had very little to do with its preparation. For example, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, said the message "was composed without any input from the majority of the American Catholic bishops, who were given no opportunity whatever to comment on its pastoral usefulness or on its contents … The document, in a view which is shared by many, is founded on bad advice, mistaken theology, erroneous science and skewed sociology."

The New Ways priest also said, and I quote: "Regarding sexual behavior, the Catholic Catechism ... does not use the word 'celibacy' for gay and lesbian people; the word is 'chastity,' ", Schexnayder said at the same talk; and chastity, he said, is "about successful integration." As for homosexual unions, "I don’t think the Church is going to deal with gay and lesbian marriages, but in its history and those who have done research on this, the Catholic Church and other Christian churches like the Orthodox church, have in fact in history blessed same-gender unions as spiritual bondings, and there are saints who have had very committed relationships." [This is not defined as in proper context, of course.] During the question and answer period following the talk, Schexnayder, asked how a homosexual act cannot be anything but a sin, replied, "The more complex issue of ethical behavior is conscience, which is also Church teaching, is that we cannot in fact determine whether anybody commits a sin; only they can. We can talk about whether a particular objective behavior is considered by the Church or by others to be good or not good, but we cannot determine a sin, because sin by definition involves not only subjective evil but also a choice, a free choice, a knowledgeable choice. In fact, we cannot determine whether a person is committing sin or not; only they can determine that, and conscience is part of it."

A young man who was there offered this comment:

Homosexuality is a spiritual disorder - yet they say "It's also a gift. It's wonderful"?! Where is that teaching found in the Catechism? These priests cannot even bring themselves to acknowledge that the act itself is unnatural - let alone sinful. These are priests teach that "we cannot in fact determine whether anybody commits a sin; only they can" - how do you square that with the teaching of the Holy Father about moral relativism. These priests teach that each of us gets to define sin for ourselves. If they don't know what sin is, how are their flock? Didn't the Vatican itself "clarify" that these people were not proper candidates for ordination?

Fr. Jim Schexnayder, a retired priest of the Oakland diocese and co-founder of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries (which recently changed its name to Catholic Association for Lesbian & Gay Ministry), will lead a three-day Lenten retreat “for lesbian and gay Christians” beginning tomorrow at the Vallombrosa Center in Menlo Park, which is owned by the San Francisco archdiocese. A pamphlet on the Feb. 27 – March 1 retreat, entitled “Desert & Mountain Journeys,” sums up the event this way: "There are times when we need the quiet of the inner desert and there is also the gift of the mountain top moments of vision and affirmation. This first weekend of Lent will be a time for lesbian and gay Catholics and other Christians to listen to God’s voice, share their stories and insights with others, and celebrate together the love of God who is both 'holy mystery' and 'love most near.' "

Fr. Schexnayder has long been associated with a less than orthodox view of Church teaching on homosexuality since he co-founded the NACDLGM (now CALGM) in 1994. The group’s web site describes Fr. Schexnayder as an ex officio member of its board of directors residing in Walnut Creek (Oakland diocese) who "now serves as Resource Director, providing information, resources, training, and referrals to NACDLGM members." A Nov. 21, 2006 press release from NACDLGM expressing disapproval of guidance from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on "Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination" listed Fr. Schexnayder as the group’s media contact person. In the release, the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries said the USCCB guidelines "were developed without consultation with bishops and pastoral leaders of existing local diocesan outreach ministries, and without consultation with lesbian and gay Catholics" and said the bishops "also ignored the insights of science on sexuality."

Once one begins to parse this minefield of nuanced dissent, all one can say is, "Talk about being loaded!"

The very holy, very dignified, immensely humble and modest priest who heads Maine's COURAGE told those who were interested that a Catholic does not use the designations, "Gay, Lesbian, etc., because this violates the dignity they were created with and the reality of a chaste life with the help of sacramental grace. Another good priest told me that whenever someone like a priest, who actually knows better, uses these terms, it is a political act. Often the laity, bombarded by the media might also, but this is reflexive on their part and not an intentional act of dissent.

This is a small part of what I wrote to our Pastor after informing him [as in all the above] about the possibility of undermining the faith, subtle and perhaps not so subtle:

In good conscience I must refrain from attending this retreat - yes, I know it is an option only - but so are the other programs, two of which have been excellent! This emphasis on transformation and for all faiths, [as if one need not convert] is too mushy for me. Something is very wrong here. Just so you know. I am deeply disappointed.

He responded that "Father Rusty was coming ..."

After all the Diocese has been through the past twenty years, especially the more recent decade, regarding priests practicing their perverse vice, one of the four sins crying out to Heaven for vengeance from God, you would think that we finally woke up. Well, if you did, you are much mistaken. An item in this morning's KENNEBEC JOURNAL [Feb. 12, 2012] caught my eye. It was titled, "Retired Priest Under Investigation". The priest in question, whose name I shall not supply here, was suspended in 1996 for his involvement in a sordid [porno] web site for so-called "gay priests". This was, unfortunately, after he had already scandalized the faithful in the confessional, such as telling men with same-sex attraction that they need not concern themselves with chastity, that it was okay to "take a lover". I am not kidding! When the then bishop's office personnel were notified of this, nothing was done immediately, anyway that the laity noticed, for several weeks. How many young men lost their faith meanwhile or became so demoralized they fled the local church? Recall that I just wrote about his suspension, not his defrockment! It was only two years ago that he was "retired from public ministry." Words fail!

Thus it appears to me we are still retreating before the enemy.

So, my brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Maine and elsewhere [these priests traverse the continental USA], forewarned is forearmed. If you discover that your parish is following suit as mine has, you will not endanger your faith by attending; we may think we are strong in the Faith, but this is tempting the Holy Ghost, as we are to protect our precious Catholic Faith as if it is a pearl of great price and even more so. Milquetoast language garbed in modernist spirituality can be more dangerous than the overt kind. We may not always catch on until it is too late ... we must be ever alert, for the evil one prowls like a lion, ready to pounce when we least expect. Perhaps if the US Bishops had decided to retain the Prayer to St. Michael after every Low Mass, much peril could have been avoided all these years.

Remember: the Holy See has finally re-instated the perennial, traditional standard of not accepting men with same-sex attraction as candidates for ordination. This is because the disorder that predisposes men to this vice affects more than the base appetites. It is at heart a complex identity disorder, one aspect of which is a state of ambivalence, which can impact the perception of theological precepts and their promulgation, whether deliberately chosen or not.

I am praying fervently on the Holy Rosary that God will take care of this mischief in the way He wills best, for the pastor is intransigent.

Where are the traditional retreat masters of yore, whereto have they retreated? Where are the priests with the saintly knowledge of St. Alphonse Liguori, St. Ignatius of Loyola?

Divine Child, Jesus, Heart of Purity,
preserve the purity of the Holy Catholic Faith,
ére nobis,
Our Lady, Help of Christians, ora pro nobis,
St. Joseph, Patriarch of the Holy Family and all families, ora pro nobis,
St. Francis of Assisi, Seraph of the Holy Wounds, ora pro nobis,
St. Barbara, Patron of the Church and the Blessed Eucharist, ora pro nobis,
St. John Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests, ora pro nobis, and for all our priests,
St. Ignatius of Loyola, Patron Saint of all soldiers , ora pro nobis,
St. Alphonsus, Bishop and tender lover of souls, ora pro nobis,
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us,
All ye Angels and Saints, ora pro nobis, pray for us.

Part 2

The same week I addressed my concerns to our parish priest, I pleaded with him to begin preaching on the sin of contraception [etc.]. Having done so with all the fervor of my very being, heart and soul, I was met with silence. Silence can be quite revealing. If nothing else it has the potential for killing the soul, in small steps at first, - of the one who is a petrified pillar, the stone sepulchre, a morgue engraved non serviam. Those who act thus, may think it is but in a little person with no official standing, such as I am, that their argument lies, but truly their reckoning is with Christ Himself and not me. For the Church has no power, neither under Heaven nor on earth to alter the truths of the Faith revealed to the Church by the Holy Ghost, nor those taught orally in Tradition [or written in Scripture] by Jesus to the Apostles and faithfully handed down by them.

Since there is no such thing as a coincidence with God, I take it as a mark of our priests' obstinate resistance to preaching about the grave sin of contraception, in vitro fertilization and sterilization, that it was not per chance that the following Sunday our modernist associate pastor planted deep within the hearts of the assembled faithful the erroneous notion that contraception is not the least concern now. If he did not intend to do so, he could not have offered a better imitation of the real thing. Here is how it happened. During the course of his homily on illness and healing, he opined in the strongest of words that in the past - that old boogie man, the horrid past, once again - contraception was only banned because medicine had no cure at that time for many diseases that are no longer a threat. So many people did not live beyond their youth, that parents had many more children than they do now, in order to populate and be assured of having some surviving children. Then he added very curiously, today that is no longer the case, except in some places .... His voice dropped a note, became slightly hushed, trailing off as he intoned "in some", giving the distinct impression, based on the context of what had preceded - the only reason and so forth - that the ban on contraception is no longer a necessity for most, but only for a few. Now, someone might interject, he was referring to the Church [the some]. I really do not believe this to be the case. It is indicative that we are not sure since we are having this discussion. Of what use is an uncertain trumpet? For the usual way of it is that the person averring the same is to say, "Of course, the ban on contraception is still true today for us Catholics" or words close to it. And, too, we must not give short shrift to the context, recall that he told the parishioners that the ban was only because of rampant, life-threatening disease. He neglected [on purpose?] to add that regardless of the beliefs of the general population or not, the Church has always taught that contraception is a mortal sin and that disease patterns have no bearing. He also forgot to include the Lambeth Conference of 1930, wherein the Protestant revolt against Christ and His Church was continued, when that body cast the sin of contraception into the trash heap of history in its scandalous declaration. While childhood diseases were still not at bay, although greatly reduced, the motivation provided was man's "right" to control, not illness, as opposed to the moral thing, the attribute of godly character - self-control. This is to say, in essence, if disease was the factor, the priest would have had by necessity to remain silent on these two facts, in order to bolster his falacious argument. Which he did. The man is a scholar of sorts, very learned and there is no excuse. The priest committed, objectively speaking, a mortal sin and by his carelessness [if he does uphold the teachings of the Church, which he does not preach on in their entirety, an unexplained contradiction, an anomalous lapse] or if otherwise, his cunningly established heresy, he has induced his people to sin or confirm in their sin if they are doing so. Again words, fail!!!!

We are retreating, further and further into apostasy, soiling ourselves in our contempt for the teachings of the Church that we personally do not like. Letter after letter in the press convinces me that these apostate Catholics who write them or otherwise utter them in our presence have come to think of the sin of contraception a quaint and or repugnant "rule". I know as many "Catholics" who favor the Obama contraception deception as I know those Catholics who are outraged. This is the fault of the prelates and their priests who decided years ago to maintain a blackout on preaching about contraception, that obdurate, vile sin of theirs more heinous than the sins of the people who perish because their priests and bishops have failed them. Killing them softly, killing the faith softly but surely, and killing all those children God wills to be conceived in His goodness and superabundant charity. Our American hearts have overwhelmingly turned to granite and there is no gloss or vein of repentance to be found ...

The irony abounds, for in the parish bulletin Father published the 2011 diocesan statistics: infant baptisms, [births] 1288, deaths, 2645. Over twice the number of the latter as the former. This is in a time of unprecedented advances in life expectancy. Seems to me that if the priest [supra] was bothered about mortality rates, should not he be troubled that so many are still dying viz. a viz. those being born and surviving? There is no gloss or vein of repentance to be found ...

The deadly silence cries out, Oh woe be our shame!

St. Gianna Molla, Patron Saint of mothers and unborn children, ora pro nobis, pray for us.