Friday, June 6, 2008

Personal Asides: Why No Offering Yesterday…Let Us Now Parse Falsani’s Latest Pfleger Column.



This old computer groaned but I called Geek and they restored it. Sorry.

Let Us.

“Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” was the title of the famous 1941 James Agee book which derives its title from Ecclesiastes. I say let us now praise famed feminist religious columning journalists to illustrate what we Catholic news consumers have a right to expect from their craft. —i.e. in Ms. Cathleen Falsani’s case at least a beginner’s knowledge of Catholicity since she gets so “p----d” off about bad things happening to the Obama campaign from time to time.

As you know, the “Sun-Times” newspaper has fallen upon evil days. In place of Milburn P. [Pete] Akers, its editor, a sage, we have the Brit Michael Cooke who is doing his damndest to make the paper insolvent by driving all its regular readers away before his imminent replacement as happened to him in under a year when he was editor of the New York “Daily News.” Chief of its editorial pages in the old days was a real gem, Emmett Dedmon, who wrote a brilliant history of Chicago that is still used as a staple. Steve Huntley was a worthy successor under great trials ands odds but whoever is doing the job now…and it’s unclear…is merely earning the king’s shilling. On politics, substituting poorly for John Dreiske, Basil Talbott, Steve Neal and Lynn Sweet as local columnist is Carol Marin, vapor-thin in profundity, negligent in analysis and who just substitutes rampant ultra-lefty feminist rant for opinion.

And then we get to Ms. Falsani, among whose predecessors was the Rev. Roy Larson, a Lutheran minister who knew his trade including Catholicity inside out. But that is not to say that Falsani doesn’t have a way with words that go well in the bohemian genre—“p----d” for angered or with the literary arts, “Harry Potter” which she quoted in her interview with Fr. Michael Pfeger.

This website ran a critique of Ms. Falsani’s work the other day along with her photo—but she wrote to say that “while I could care less what you say about me” (she meant “while I COULDN’T care less what you say about me” the “could care” being an affection endemic to the `70s, the photo could not be used without her permission as it is under copyright. And as she indicated she wasn’t about to give permission, it must be jerked—immediately. Well …exc-u-u-u-s-e me!” So we…Jake and I…pulled the picture.

But then you get the picture anyhow, don’t you?

Now let’s parse Falsani from yesterday’s column. On the way out of Park Ridge’s St. Paul of the Cross 8:30 a.m. Mass yesterday a reader exclaimed “Did you read Falsani today?” and he emitted a sound through his teeth—“sheeeeesh!” which told it all. Nowhere can you get more misleading illiteracy about Catholicism then from her. You’d think a degree from Wheaton would give her at least a working knowledge, but nope.

So we begin. The column is entitled “Why does church need Pfleger fill-in?” The body type is Falsani’s the bold-face is the answer from Catholic orthodoxy.

“When the Rev. Michael Pfleger takes his annual vacation to Hawaii, usually for two weeks in October, Kimberly Lymore, the parish’s pastoral associate since 2000, steps in to run St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church. Lymore, 50, has been a member of the Faith Community of St. Sabina’s (as members prefer to call it) for exactly half of her life, joining the parish in 1983 when it had about 300 members.

“Over the years, Lymore has become more and more active in the life of the parish, which now draws close to 2,000 worshipers on the weekend.”

NOTE: 2,000 so-called “worshipers” or Catholics? My guess is that people Fr. Pfleger wooed who go to his church to hear a leather-lunged preacher and a flock of Democratic candidates assail whitey may go for the pure thrill of it. You see, Cathleen—and you can tell your big sister Carol Marin a Catholic who should know this but who gives every indication that she doesn’t—that everyone is welcome in a Catholic church but the Lateran Council defined two classes of people—Catholics and others. Their respective situations are not the same. Catholics have to be baptized, should be instructed (although with the current state of parochial schools many are not), confirmed, make their Easter Duty which is to receive Communion at least…at least…once a year, then at Easter and follow a number of church precepts, particularly the obligation to be in the state of sanctifying grace when receiving Communion which Catholics believe to be in fact the Real Presence i.e. the actual body and blood of Christ not a symbol and is essential for salvation. Of course contraception which is never mentioned by a timid church is a sin and abortion is a grave offense which gets liberal feminists and others aghast. But back to Lateran. The Council stated, “those who have accepted the faith under the magisterium of the Church can never have any just reason for changing that faith or calling it into doubt.” Sounds authoritarian by today’s standard, doesn’t it? But it has to do not with authority but with grace, as the Church has long taught and has ratified with Vatican I and II. How so? Because God is never wanting with His grace and because the evidence for accepting this faith is such that a Catholic does not have objectively valid grounds for doubting or denying what, perhaps subjectively, he/she finds trouble in believing.

Now Falsani describes Lymore, unmarried, no kids, who earned a master’s degree in divinity from Catholic Theological Union and who next year expects to complete Doctor of Ministry degree at McCormick Seminary and is a Eucharistic minister.

NOTE: The Catholic Theological Union is indeed Catholic but let us say liturgically and doctrinally creative—still Catholic however. The McCormick Theological Seminary is one of eleven schools of theology in the Presbyterian Church USA.

“With Lymore standing by in the rectory why did Cardinal Francis George feel the need to appoint a temporary administrator—the Rev. William Vanecko, pastor of neighboring St. Kilian parish—during Pfleger’s “leave of a couple of weeks form his pastoral duties” since Lymore is a pastoral associate?

NOTE: I know this comes as a shock to you as a religion columnist for a major urban newspaper but while a Eucharistic minister can distribute the consecrated host, he/she cannot consecrate bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. That can only be done by a priest. Yes, hosts can and are occasionally pre-consecrated by priests so the Eucharistic Minister can distribute them but the participating in the sacrament in which the act of transubstantiation occurs cannot be effected by anyone but a validly ordained priest. In addition, Cathleen, confessions cannot be heard by a surrogate. Suppose someone in the parish gets a heart attack and needs what we call the Last Sacraments, the sacrament of reconciliation, or confession. This can only be administered by a priest, who alone has the power to invoke forgiveness of sin and confer penance. Anointing of the sick and dying can only be administered by a priest. Weddings can only be performed in the Church by a priest as witness.

“Could it be because she’s a she?”

NOTE: I knew you’d get to that because along with your big sister, Carol, it’s your favorite wedge as feminists, but save it for your active cheer-leading in the Democratic party. The character of the Roman Catholic priesthood has been a property of maleness. Why? Because the ultimate basis for the sacrament of Holy Orders has been Christ’s own priestly ministry on earth, with precedents in the priestly casts of the family of Aaron, the twelve tribes of Israel, the very name of apostles whom he was sending.

“If it’s only for two weeks—if it’s really ONLY for TWO WEEKS—then why do we need an administrator?” Lymore said Wednesday. “We met with Vanecko this morning. He’s kind of laid-back. He said, `I was told by the diocese that you are run, basically, self-sufficiently.’ Maybe they thought we need priest to come in for Mass, I don’t know,’ she continued. ‘But we always have someone to do the Masses…We can have Masses in the absence of a priest, just using consecrated hosts. We were trained to do that at CTU.”

NOTE: Either Lymore wasn’t listening closely at CTU…or maybe they didn’t stress it (my guess is the latter)…but as I would have hoped Lymore would know, while Falsani obviously doesn’t have a clue…distribution of the pre-consecrated Eucharist is not the celebration of the Mass. The Eucharistic offering is the central part of the Mass but receiving it without a Mass is no substitute for going to Mass. And if there is anything that Catholics are continually reminded to do, it’s to participate actively in the Mass. They do so by uniting themselves in spirit with the priest who represents Christ and the Church and by offering themselves together with Christ as victims to the heavenly Father. When the priest offers Mass, he does so in the name of all Christ’s members since he represents Christ in the fullness of His Mystical Body. The congregation unites its sentiments of praise and petition, of expiation and gratitude, with the prayers and intentions of the priest who is acting in the name of Christ. The consummation of the Eucharistic liturgy is the reception of Holy Communion in which the body and blood of Christ are received and by which we are united with the incarnate Son of God. But receiving a pre-consecrated host, while valid, is no substitute for attending Mass which is obligatory on Sunday and Holy Days at the very least.

It turns out that there are 98 pastoral associates in the archdiocese. None run a parish and Lymore’s name is not included, “a discrepancy not immediately explained.”

Note: A discrepancy or, given the free-form way Fr. Pfleger runs things, maybe not. It’s my guess…just a guess…that the lady is no pastoral associate but was told she was by the man they believe is their ad-hoc political Pope.

“It all depends on how long `a couple of weeks’ actually turns out to be. `They didn’t consult with us,’ Lymore told me. `We felt very disrespected as a faith community. Basically [George] is responding to the concerns of white Catholics’ who were offended by Pfleger’s comments on race in a sermon he gave late last month at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. `So what about your black Catholic community, the one you have again disrespected?’

“I for one would like to hear the cardinal’s answer.”

Note: You wouldn’t understand it, Cathleen because like Lymore, you can’t, for the life of you comprehend that the group that crowds into St. Sabina’s to hear bombast may well be largely non-Catholic, cheering and bouncing off the walls to enjoy an anti-whitey, racist political rally…rather than a Mass. Lymore’s mal-education is one thing, devolved from a liberal, free-form “Catholic seminary” that has always been on the farthest edge of orthodoxy mingled with a Presbyterian social gospel advocacy training camp, but your screed in a so-called column on religion is illiteracy-compounded, which is quite another.


  1. Eucharistic Minister and Pastoral Associate are not the same thing, Tom. An Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion has only one task--assisting with distribution of Communion. A Pastoral Associate is a layperson (including members of religious orders--monastics and religious are lay people unless they happen also to be priests) who takes on a variety of tasks in a parish. Some smaller parishes in dioceses short of priests may have Pastoral Associates as administrators of parishes, but I doubt that that is done in Chicago--I don't know.

    Of course, lay people who are Pastoral Associates cannot confect the Eucharist or hear confessions. Obviously a priest would have to come in for the sacraments, but Lymore's point is not as farfetched as you make it seem when you scold Falsani for not knowing what a Eucharistic Minister is.

    The real issue is whether the leave is to be very short-term, in which case Lymore has a point. The proper response to her might be to suggest that the appointing of a priest as parish administrator points to a leave of absence longer than two weeks, perhaps quite long.

    By the way, it really was a bit below the belt to assume (in your earlier posting on Fr. Pfleger) that Fr. Vanecko, just because he's related to the Daleys, was appointed for political cronyism. You admitted that you did not know anything about him. It's wrong to assume what one does not know. One person commented on another blog that he knows Fr. Vanecko to be a solid, faithfully Catholic priest. You might have reserved judgment on him until you had asked around a bit.

  2. Sometimes parishes have temporary lay administrators. I don't pretend to know why the Cardinal decided to appoint Rev. Vanecko as the temporary administrator. Vanecko could preside at Mass and handle sacramental ministry for the parish without assuming the role of administrator. I suspect there is more to the story. Could he be sending a message that control of the parish resides with the Cardinal or even easing Vanecko in as Pfleger's replacement?


  4. It was just reported that Fr. Pfleger will return to St. Sabina on 6/16 'with no restrictions'. Since I have already expressed my concerns both to the Cardinal and Pfleger's vicar in writing, I would like to know who the next step up is--if you have an address and/or email I would appreciate it.