Sunday, January 27, 2008

Another open letter to Bishop Robert J. McManus

False irenicism?

The following is my response to a homily given by Rev. Andre Dargis at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish in Gardner, Massachusetts. Fr. Dargis' homily was broadcast from WGAW radio.

January 27, 2008

The Most Rev. Robert J. McManus
Bishop of Worcester
49 Elm Street
Worcester, Ma 01609

Your Excellency,

The Second Vatican Council, in its Decree on Ecumenism No. 3, teaches us that, "...some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ.

The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.

It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

Nevertheless, our separated brethren, whether considered as individuals or as Communities and Churches, are not blessed with that unity which Jesus Christ wished to bestow on all those who through Him were born again into one body, and with Him quickened to newness of life-that unity which the Holy Scriptures and the ancient Tradition of the Church proclaim. For it is only through Christ's Catholic Church, which is "the all-embracing means of salvation," that they can benefit fully from the means of salvation. We believe that Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God." (UR, No. 3).

This Magisterial teaching regarding Catholic principles on ecumenism is apparently not understood by Rev. Andre Dargis, the Pastor of Holy Rosary Parish in Gardner. Commenting on today’s Second Reading (1 Corinthians 1: 10-13, 17), which reads:

"I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters,by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning," Rev. Dargis suggested that no one man or one church has all the answers and that we are no different from the people St. Paul was addressing at Corinth when we say, "I follow the Pope" while still others say, "I follow Martin Luther."

What Fr. Dargis failed to mention in his homily is that St. Paul was addressing those who were creating divisions within the Church founded by Jesus Christ. He also failed to address the Magisterial teaching that, "Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time..." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 820) and that, "...we must realize ‘that this holy objective - the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ - transcends human powers and gifts.’" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 822, citing UR, No. 24).

Pope John Paul II, in his Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint, said that: "Taking up an idea expressed by Pope John XXIII at the opening of the Council, the Decree on Ecumenism mentions the way of formulating doctrine as one of the elements of a continuing reform. Here it is not a question of altering the deposit of faith, changing the meaning of dogmas, eliminating essential words from them, accommodating truth to the preferences of a particular age, or suppressing certain articles of the Creed under the false pretext that they are no longer understood today. The unity willed by God can be attained only by the adherence of all to the content of revealed faith in its entirety. In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God, who is Truth. In the Body of Christ, ‘the way, and the truth, and the life’ (Jn 14:6), who could consider legitimate a reconciliation brought about at the expense of the truth? The Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae attributes to human dignity the quest for truth, ‘especially in what concerns God and his Church,’ and adherence to truth’s demands. A ‘being together’ which betrayed the truth would thus be opposed both to the nature of God, who offers his communion, and to the need for truth found in the depths of every human heart." (UUS, No. 18).

Your Excellency, the Council’s Decree on Ecumenism rejects as "foreign to the spirit of ecumenism" anything that would compromise the integrity of Catholic doctrine or obscure its meaning, teaching that: "The way and method in which the Catholic faith is expressed should never become an obstacle to dialogue with our brethren. It is, of course, essential that the doctrine should be clearly presented in its entirety. Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism, in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded." (UR, No. 11).

It is my hope that Your Excellency will remind Fr. Dargis of these truths. In the words of Dr. Dietrich Von Hildebrand, "False irenicism is motivated by a misconceived charity at the service of a meaningless unity. It places unity above truth. Having severed the essential link between charity and defense of the truth, irenicism is more concerned with reaching a unity with all men than with leading them to Christ and His eternal truth. It ignores the fact that real unity can be reached only in truth. Our Lord’s prayer ‘that they may be one’ implies being one in Him and must not be separated from His words in John: ‘And other sheep I have that are not of this fold. Them also I must bring and they shall hear my voice. And there shall be one fold and one shepherd.’" (Dr. Dietrich Von Hildebrand, citing John 10:16).

Asking Your Excellency’s Blessing,
I am, Yours Respectfully
Paul Anthony Melanson

cc: Rev. Andre Dargis


Alan said...

Fr. Dargis made fun of how his parents would make the Sign of the Cross when crossing in front of a Catholic Parish but not when they passed by a Protestant church. What he didn't mention is why: Catholic parishes have the Eucharist, the Real Presence of Our Lord, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity which dwells in the tabernacle.

Margaret said...

So why be a Catholic then? Father Andre seems to believe that there really is no difference between the Chrisian churches and that it doesn't really matter if one follows the Pope or Luther.

Was Vatican II wrong? Is the Decree on Ecumenism wrong? Is Pope John Paul II wrong?

Matlee said...

In Dominus Iesus, Nos. 16, 17, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had this to say:


16. The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him (cf. Jn 15:1ff.; Gal 3:28; Eph 4:15-16; Acts 9:5). Therefore, the fullness of Christ's salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord. Indeed, Jesus Christ continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church (cf. Col 1:24-27), which is his body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-13, 27; Col 1:18). And thus, just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated, and constitute a single "whole Christ". This same inseparability is also expressed in the New Testament by the analogy of the Church as the Bride of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25-29; Rev 21:2,9).

Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith. Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: "a single Catholic and apostolic Church". Furthermore, the promises of the Lord that he would not abandon his Church (cf. Mt 16:18; 28:20) and that he would guide her by his Spirit (cf. Jn 16:13) mean, according to Catholic faith, that the unicity and the unity of the Church — like everything that belongs to the Church's integrity — will never be lacking.

The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity — rooted in the apostolic succession — between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church: "This is the single Church of Christ... which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care (cf. Jn 21:17), commissioning him and the other Apostles to extend and rule her (cf. Mt 28:18ff.), erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth' (1 Tim 3:15). This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in [subsistit in] the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him". With the expression subsistit in, the Second Vatican Council sought to harmonize two doctrinal statements: on the one hand, that the Church of Christ, despite the divisions which exist among Christians, continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church, and on the other hand, that "outside of her structure, many elements can be found of sanctification and truth", that is, in those Churches and ecclesial communities which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church. But with respect to these, it needs to be stated that "they derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church".

17. Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.

On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church. Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church.

"The Christian faithful are therefore not permitted to imagine that the Church of Christ is nothing more than a collection — divided, yet in some way one — of Churches and ecclesial communities; nor are they free to hold that today the Church of Christ nowhere really exists, and must be considered only as a goal which all Churches and ecclesial communities must strive to reach". In fact, "the elements of this already-given Church exist, joined together in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other communities". "Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church".

The lack of unity among Christians is certainly a wound for the Church; not in the sense that she is deprived of her unity, but "in that it hinders the complete fulfilment of her universality in history".

Does Fr. Dargis accept this authoritative teaching of the Magisterium? It sure doesn't seem so. For this reason, he should be removed as pastor of Holy Rosary.

A Parishioner said...

Fr. Dargis is creating so much confusion and fostering division. A couple of months ago he was critical of Pope Benedict XVI because His Holiness insisted that the fullness of Christ's truth may only be found in the Catholic Church. Yesterday he spoke of the Episcopalians as being on the forefront of ecumenical initiatives. Really? If they are so concerned about unity with other Christian churches, why are they ordaining practicing homosexuals like V. Gene Robinson? Why are they trying to legitimize homosexuality?

I'm concerned about Fr. Dargis. Back in late November or early December, he said that he and many of his brother priests live in fear of getting a call from the Bishop because of the recent allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of some priests.

If Fr. Dargis is living an authentic Catholic life in the Holy Spirit, what is he afraid of? Is there something we should know about?

I agree with Matlee. Fr. Dargis should be removed from OLHR. And soon. He is not concerned with the true welfare of souls. If he were, he would not be undermining Catholic truth while being critical of Christ's Vicar, Pope Benedict XVI.

A concerned (lifelong) parishioner said...

I was at the 8 AM Mass at Holy Rosary and I thought it was odd that Fr. Andre would make sport of his parents like that. Doesn't one of the Ten Commandments tell us to honor our father and mother? I don't feel he was honoring his parents by ridiculing the fact that they would make the Sign of the Cross only when passing by a Catholic church and not other churches such as Protestant.

For me, there is something strange about that. Of course, many in the church laughed at his lousy "jokes." Most do so because they feel this is obligatory.

It is a shame that Fr. Andre is more intent on being a standup comedian than he is a priest faithful to the Magisterium. All the more so since he isn't that funny.

Not funny. Just shameful.

Jerry said...

If Father thinks the Episcopalians are so wonderful and are "leading the way," he should exercise a little honesty and join their ranks. He loves cashing those checks from the Diocese of Worcester doesn't he?

What really ticks me off is the way he smugly criticizes the Catholic Church of the 1950's. The seminaries were full back then. The convents were full. The confessional lines stretched out of the Church, parishes were packed at every Mass. And a Catholic priest - Fulton J. Sheen - was so popular that for a while he surpassed even I Love Lucy in the ratings.

And now? Clerical sex abuse scandals, dissent from Church teaching, empty seminaries, empty convents, parishes being closed or not maintained.

And Father considers this an "improvement"? With "pastors" like this, small wonder we have so many problems in the U.S.

Sanctus Belle said...

Very well written letter.

A parishioner said...

Fr. Dargis was really selling the liberal Episcopalian church at Mass this past Sunday. Could the following link explain why:

Could this have anything to do with his fear of getting a call from the Bishop? He is the one who expressed this fear from the pulpit.

I really would like to know what sort of agenda he is promoting here.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Thank you all for your comments. Parishioner, more to the point, one would have to wonder if Fr. Dargis believes that Gene Robinson's remarks contribute anything positive to ecumenical dialogue and mutual understanding. The Episcopal church has been moving toward a greater acceptance of the homosexual "lifestyle." Its decision to ordain homosexual men has not only created much division within its own ranks but has pushed that church even further away from our Catholic Church. As you mentioned, Fr. Dargis insisted last Sunday that the Episcopalians have been at the forefront of ecumenical initiatives. What he neglected to mention is that the Episcopal church has been placing ever more distance between itself and the Church founded by Christ.

Isn't that a shame?

Ted Loiseau said...

Father Dargis' attitude is just plain sad. One has to wonder what sort of training he had in seminary to spout such nonsense. It sounds like he is unhappy as a Catholic priest. Maybe he would be happier serving under V. Gene Robinson in the Episcopalian church. I'm sure they'd love to have him.

Wendy said...

Another blow to Fr. Dargis' theory that the Episcopalians are leading the way in Ecumenism:

(January 12, 2009)-- The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado has ended its so-called "period of restraint" on ordaining homosexual priests.

Bishop Robert O'Neill ordained Mary Catherine Volland to the priesthood during a ceremony on Saturday at St. John's Cathedral.

Volland, a longtime Colorado resident and partnered lesbian, had been a candidate for ordination in the Diocese of Minnesota.

She will serve at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Denver.

The issue of gay priests has splintered the church nationwide.

Stokes, spokeswoman for the 30,000-member Colorado diocese, said O'Neill had suspended gay ordination out of sensitivity for church factions strongly opposed to it.

She said Bishop O'Neill is now deciding the matter on a case-by-case basis.

Gay priests serve several Episcopal congregations in Colorado.

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