Sunday, June 22, 2008

Anatomy of a controversy...

"You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" - John 8: 32

The Scripture passage above appears on the masthead of The Catholic Free Press

Readers of this Blog will recall how I wrote The Most Rev. Robert J. McManus a letter inquiring as to why the MMP Cenacle I attend every week cannot be listed in The Catholic Free Press. That letter may be found here.

I just received (yesterday) a sarcastic response to my concerns from the Editor of The Catholic Free Press, Margaret Russell. Although her letter begins with a pleasant tone, it quickly degenerates into falsehood (whether intentional or not). Below is my response to Ms. Russell:

June 22, 2008

Margaret M. Russell
The Catholic Free Press
51 Elm Street
Worcester, Mass 01609

Dear Ms. Russell,

As Christians, we should always strive to communicate truthfully since we can only spread the truth of the Gospel and build up the kingdom of Christ by testifying to truth. Good and honest communication requires hard work. Often laziness may tempt one to shirk the demands of good and honest communication and to employ the easier expedient of manipulation. And this laziness and expediency lead in turn to careless inaccuracy, exaggeration, stronger assertions than are warranted, and negligent failures to clarify one’s meaning. All of which frustrate the purpose of authentic communication which should contribute to communion among persons.

Responding to a letter which I wrote to His Excellency, Bishop McManus, on May 16, 2008, and which he forwarded to you, you wrote: "Thank you for your devotion to the rosary and your service to the Church in leading the Marian Movement of Priests Cenacle every Thursday at ........... You are to be commended for your devotion as are others around the diocese who regularly pray the rosary. We cannot, however, include every private or even public devotion in our calendar. We have set aside the space for events connected to parish and diocesan groups....Your contention in a letter to Bishop McManus that The Catholic Free Press’ failure to publicize your particular devotion means that we consider it ‘dangerous’ or ‘inappropriate’ is preposterous, as I am sure, upon further reflection, you would agree. Neither is it true that the CFP prominently promotes VOTF. May you continue your prayerfulness and may God’s peace be with you. Peace."

First of all Ms. Russell, I am not the leader of the Marian Movement of Priests Cenacle at ............ As I explained to Bishop McManus in my letter, "I belong to a Marian Movement of Priests Cenacle which is held every Thursday at 3 PM at .................. in Fitchburg." In point of fact, a Catholic gentleman by the name of .................. leads this Cenacle. I have never claimed that I was the Cenacle leader.

Secondly, your statement that The Catholic Free Press "..cannot..include every private or even public devotion in the Calendar" is very revealing. This because the Calendar has, in the past, included listings for PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and FFLAG (Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) meetings. St. Camillus de Lellis Parish in Fitchburg has hosted these groups. At its website, PFLAG states that "Since 2000, PFLAG has had an official policy statement on marriage equality that states its opposition to any attempts at either the federal or state level to introduce constitutional amendments restricting marriage to heterosexual couples, rendering GLBT people second-class citizens." As for FFLAG, which is closely associated with PFLAG, their mission statement says that they are "working locally, nationally and in Europe on issues of equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people." Funny how these groups have had no problem in the past being included in the Calendar but the MMP Cenacle I attend is excluded because it is not held in a parish.

Thirdly, when you write "Your contention in a letter to Bishop McManus that The Catholic Free Press’ failure to publicize your particular devotion means that we consider it ‘dangerous’ or ‘inappropriate’ is preposterous," are you intentionally engaging in dishonesty in an attempt to paint me as some sort of religious fanatic who is so intent on promoting my own "particular devotion" that I have issued false allegations? When did I ever contend that such was the case?
In my letter to the Bishop, I wrote: "In the past, there have been attempts to have the Marian Movement of Priests Cenacle included in the Diocesan Diary but these have not been successful. And one has to wonder why this is. Is it that the messages contained in the book ‘To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons’ are considered somehow dangerous or inappropriate?...Is it devotion to the Holy Rosary which is considered problematic?" I was merely posing questions, not making allegations. Apparently I struck some sort of nerve.

Lastly, you write, "Neither is it true that the CFP prominently promotes VOTF." But my statement to Bishop McManus that The Catholic Free Press published an article written by Fr. William J. Byron, S.J. for the Catholic News Service in its October 26th edition is true. You may not consider this article to be a prominent promotion of the dissent group, but I would disagree. Many of the faithful who read that article will give Fr. Byron’s views much weight since he is a Jesuit priest and the article was carried by the Catholic News Service.

It is really a shame when dissent has no difficulty finding its way into The Catholic Free Press but an MMP Cenacle listing does.

Ms Russell, you have wished me peace. And I wish the same for you. But it must be remembered that authentic peace is always rooted in truth, that truth which sets us free (John 8:32). It is a peace which will only come from keeping His Commandments. One of which is to communicate truthfully.

In Christ,

Paul Anthony Melanson

cc: The Most Rev. Robert J. McManus

Note: There is a listing in The Catholic Free Press for an MMP Cenacle which takes place at Saint Catherine of Sweden Church in the diocese. But because the Cenacle I attend doesn't take place within a parish, it won't be included in the CFP. PFLAG and FFLAG have been listed because they took place within a parish. However, these groups promote views which are inconsistent with Catholic teaching to say the least (same-sex "marriage" etc). For some peculiar reason, the Cenacle I attend hasn't been allowed to take place within the Church itself.


Anonymous said...

It's disturbing that groups which promote homosexuality have been listed in the diocesan calendar but an MMP cenacle is having so much difficulty. Equally confusing is why the pastor of the parish hasn't allowed the cenacle to meet on Church grounds. What is so controversial about praying the Rosary and reading a message from Our Lady to Fr. Gobbi. The book has the Imprimatur and the movement includes many Cardinals and Bishops. If Father wants to ensure all is well, he or his associate could always attend the meetings.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

I never did hear from His Excellency, Bishop McManus. I am, nevertheless grateful that he forwarded my letter to the CFP. I accept their policy (what else could I do anyway) and I understand the need to be vigilant because there are fringe groups out there. But the MMP is not "fringe." Members of my Cenacle would welcome a priest to monitor the group and/or serve as a spiritual advisor.

The MMP is committed to the Church and her teaching 100 percent. Members consecrate themselves every day to Our Lady and promise to remain faithful to the Magisterium and to serve as a barrier against those who oppose the Magisterium. The movement is entirely docile to the Church.

I don't understand it either local. It is confusing.

Anonymous said...

The MMP Cenacle in question has been advertised by St. Joseph's Parish in its bulletin. Why then can't the CFP advertise the prayer group?

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