Make your own free website on Tripod.com

  

Vol 3 No. 3 - Dedicated to St. Joseph By & For Santa Clara Valley Catholics - May/June, 1996

Publisher - Marc Crotty

This Page looks best with your monitor set to 800 x 600 w/256 colors

WHAT'S IN THIS ISSUE:

THIS RENEW'S FOR YOU

 INTRODUCTION

WHAT IS IT?

HOW IT WORKS

NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF BISHOPS STUDY OF "RENEW"

WHY WORRY?

A CRITICAL ANALYSIS

IS THIS WHAT YOU'RE PAYING $22,300 A YEAR FOR?

VIVA BISHOP BRUSKEWITZ!

BRIGHT & DIM VIEWS

PAST ISSUES OF THE VIEW

OTHER CATHOLIC SITES

VIEW FROM THE PEW is publshed by an association of Catholic laity in the Diocese of San Jose, California. For a paper copy subscription of this newsletter a suggested donation of $15 (not tax deductible) will put you on the mailing list. For all inquires, and Letters to the Editor, please write to: Box 700084, San Jose, CA 95170-0084

(c) 1996 View From the Pew - Articles may be copied, provided due credit is given to VFTP.

RENEW: INTRODUCTION

The Second Commandment of God seems like the simplest one: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

Every kid knows what that means: Don't cuss. But it means something more: Don't give God credit for things He is not responsible for--like doo-dah liturgies, airhead retreats and praying under pyramids.

Today we should be examining our consciences over the "Renew Program" in the Church. Renew is the national fad--now being promoted in the Diocese of San Jose--to organize small prayer and Scripture groups for private study. So what could be wrong with people praying and reading Scripture together outside the Church? Martin Luther is probably asking himself that question in purgatory, gazing down on the hundreds of denominations that resulted from his "Reform." Even Lutherans are split into warring synods.

Perhaps liberal Catholics, in their rush to laicize the Church, are opening us up to all sorts of trouble with these Renew groups, where every person can be his own theologian or where the pecking order will decide. In the '80's, everyone was "into" seeing a shrink; in the 90's, it's recovery groups. Renew sounds like we're tapping into this format. I'm OK; God's OK--even though He's an abusive parent!

Another idea we should examine is "The Institute", described very briefly in the last two editions of The Valley Catholic. The Institute, apparently, is a place where lay people will be educated in how to carry on without priests. Each pastor will select 20 or 30 "forward- thinking"; people from his or her parish to attend. These forward-thinking people will be trained in all areas of parish operation.The Institute appears to be another self-serving Newchurch invention. From these few select folks with a parish "calling" will come a feeling, then a policy, that priests aren't really necessary. The Host can be blessed once a year like the baptismal candle, and individual confessions can be discontinued (which is the practice for a lot of Catholics anyway). We won't need to pray for vocations because "forward-looking" teams will come to regard priests as a kind of top-heavy nuisance. "They get so uppity".

The president of the parish team will be the guy--or, more probably, gal--who signs the checks. He or she will function like a Protestant pastor.We must ask ourselves: Is this what Christ had in mind when he handed St. Peter the keys of the kingdom and set up the One, Holy, Universal and Apostolic Church? What will be the safeguards against Institute people creating fiefdoms, teaching their own doctrine, bending or breaking the rules? Of course, much of this goes on today. Priests dissent and subject their parishes to scandal. But there is always the Magisterium to keep the majority from diverging too far from The Rock.

The Magisterium is not going to go away. But there has to be a duty and a vow to listen. With The Institute, we may be turning our religion into an industry with branches and boards of directors. If a disgruntled group decides not to follow the CEO, it just forms its own unit.The question is: Will it matter if the CEO is God?

RENEW: WHAT IS IT?

The Valley Catholic outlined the diocese's Renew plan in its March 12, 1996 issue:

1. Renew is a "small group faith-sharing process that can be incorporated into the ongoing life and vitality of the church."

2. The Renew symbol is a tree (not a Crucifix or Rosary).

3. Renew sessions will begin in the fall of 1997 and during Lent of the following year. Each session will run for six weeks and the entire program will be ongoing for a period of three years.

4. Each session will have a theme. Themes include "the Lord's call, our response, discipleship and evanageliztion."

5. "Renew gives people who are reluctant to deal with the large parish the chance to experience the church in a small, informal, neighborhood setting."

6. "Sharing on a personal level will be a new experience for many, including some priests since seminary training has been intellectually and liturgically oriented in the past."

7. The theme of the diocese's Renew "process" is the image of Joseph with a caring hand on the shoulder of the boy, Jesus. A "Renew prayer to St. Joseph" will be incorporated in each session."

RENEW: HOW IT WORKS

Step 1. Ask for special volunteers. Look for people with some degree of leadership qualities. They make up the Core Group.

Step 2. The leaders attend several workshops, run by liberals (professional "Modernists"). Some orthodox priests attend the seminars, giving the process an aura of respectability. The leaders are taught the dynamics of running a small discussion group.

Step 3. All adults in the parish are asked to sign up and attend a general meeting. With the usual socializing, hugging, coffee and cake, glowing promises of parish rejuvenation are predicted. Those who sing up to participate are formed into small cell groups, perhaps 8 to 12 persons each.

Step 4. At weekly meetings in the home, the Bible is discussed. Certain passages are recommended by the diocesan Renew office. Group praying is included. Good people are thus drawn into the program. It is awkward to offer objections to Bible reading and prayer.

Step 5. This is the critical step. No matter what belief is held by a member of a cell, the leader has been instructed never to correct or contradict. If a member says: "I do not think abortion is a sin" or "I think Christ intended the Eucharist to be merely a symbol" no one is to override these erroneous beliefs. Each man or woman has a right to believe whatever is "fulfilling."

The formation materials supplied for the Renew programs in the East through the Paulist Press (which also published Christ Among Us, later condemned by the Vatican), present a picture of Jesus Christ as an ignorant, struggling, frustrated human "brother," not the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the very Eternal Word and Wisdom of God.

In 1979, William Cardinal Baum warned the U.S. Bishops concerning the increasing attacks on orthodox Christology: "The mystery of the Incarnation is being challenged in a profound way by many theologians and if you have not yet felt the effects of this in your own local dioceses, you will in time. These effects already are being felt in our seminaries and universities and undoubtedly will affect preaching and teaching in the local churches."

The reduction of Christ to human "community" level can be traced to what we might call "New Breed Catholics, who, along with Protestants and Modernists, deny the supernatural order and the divinity of Christ. It was Modernist Hans Kung who wrote: "religious experience must replace definitive teaching of the Church".

Renew's Modernist character is why it fails as a spiritual formation process in which Catholics can have confidence.

NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF BISHOPS STUDY OF "RENEW"

(This is a partial summary from The Renew Process: Strengths and Areas for Improvement issued by the "Origins, NC Documentary Service," on January 8, 1987. This publication was sponsored by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The analysis identified several concerns which are summarized here.)

SPECIFIC CONCERNS ABOUT THE PROCESS

1. There is a tendency toward a "generic" Christianity. The Renew literature does not identify what is distinctly Catholic in our faith process. As an example under "What Renew will do for the parish," the formation in prayer, Scripture, community building, justice, etc., does not indicate the teaching of the Church that gives meaning to the living tradition.

2. There is a need for greater balance and completeness. Renew creators admit a bias for immanence, the emphasis that God is among us. In Renew, the Church is more a people than an institution. Renew clearly commits itself to a model of church that is a community of disciples, one that nurtures itself for mission rather than for self-service.

The Renew program errs by exclusion, that is by not offering a balanced theological perspective. Some of the exclusions are: The distinctive nature of the Catholic Church as a structured, hierarchical, visible, sacramental community bound together in a tradition that includes Scripture as a font of faith but also the authoritative development and interpretation of the doctrines of faith by the Magisterium of the Church; a broader model than "community;" the insistence that God's revelation, and not just personal experience, is the norm for deeper understanding and appreciation of authentic faith.

While we (the authors of "Origins") applaud the strategy of Renew to call people to greater responsibility of the Church, we are concerned that a corresponding emphasis on the Sacrament of Holy Orders is missing. Thus a distorted vision about the future of ministry can develop.

3. The cognitive (or knowing) dimensions of faith need more emphasis. Renew has developed a process that stresses the need to touch the emotional and personal faith experiences within a supportive community of believers. But there is need to emphasize the intellectual aspects of faith life, particularly one's relation to the parish, the diocese and the universal Church.

The emphasis of Renew on personal and shared "experience as the locus of revelation" can lead to fundamentalism and the privatization of religious truth. Our people must always be made aware of the basis for our faith: Jesus Christ.

Renew is not just a brief, intensive event but a three-year process of conversion and formation. Because of its duration and impact, we have to be concerned about the effects it has on orthodoxy.

4. The Eucharist needs broader definition and an emphasis on sacrifice and worship. We (the study authors) have concerns about the singular emphasis in some of the material on the communal meal, which can lead to confusion about the essential nature of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

View From The Pew suggests that Renewal participants include the "Origins" analysis in their parish evaluation. Being aware of these concerns will help you look for them and evaluate the program's orthodoxy.

Please write to VFTP for a complete copy of the original "Origins" article, on which this summary was based.

RENEW: WHY WORRY?

1. Ask yourself why a Catholic program would choose a non-Catholic symbol as its logo.

2. Ask yourself who is directing the at-homes. Are they orthodox Catholics? Have they been properly catechized? Are they critical of the Pope and the Magisterium? Have they been influenced by angry leaders in the Church who want to change the Church?

3. Ask yourself if there is a hidden agenda in this "process"? Is this an attempt, perhaps unwitting, to further Protestantize the Church? Does it diminish the value of Holy Orders?

4. Ask yourself if the "sharing" portion of the at-homes will degenerate into gripe sessions against the Church (why not women priests? why not gay marriages? why not contraception?).

5. Ask yourself if we should be promoting Church activities away from the Blessed Sacrament. Should we remove ourselves from the Body of Christ?

6. One final question: Would the Blessed Mother say "yes" to Renew or a weekly visit to the Blessed Sacrament?

RENEW: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS

The following is a partial reprint from The Renew Process: Strengths and Areas for Improvement issued by the "Origins, NC Documentary Service," January 8, 1987. This publication was sponsored by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, but not necessarily endorsed by that body:

Because of the accomplishments and promise of the Renew process, however, the committee also identified several concerns "in an effort to improve it." Included were: a tendency toward a generic Christianity; a need for greater balance and completeness; a need for more emphasis on the cognitive dimensions of faith; and a need for a broader definition of the eucharist and an emphasis on sacrifice and worship.

Some Specific Concerns About the Process

1. The tendency toward a generic Christianity.
Perhaps the main cause of concern for the critics of Renew and one of the weaknesses we recognize in the process is the fact that basic Christian themes are presented without sufficiently relating them to their specific form as experienced in Roman Catholic tradition and practice. The literature does not identify, to the extent that we think it should, what is distinctly Catholic in our faith process. [Read: Protestentization] As an example, expectation 6 under "what will Renew do for the parish," the formation in prayer, Scripture, community building, justice, etc., does not indicate the teaching of the Church that gives meaning to the living tradition which forms the basis for authentic Catholic renewal.

Even though the authors of Renew claim that it "has never attempted to be a catechetical program," nonetheless there is an admission that there are "formation and programmatic aspects of the Renew process" which provide, directly or indirectly. both content and doctrine for participants in the process. We must be concerned, then, about what such a pedagogical-formational device teaches by exclusion as well as by inclusion.

2. The need for greater balance and completeness.
The authors of Renew admit certain biases in their approach to personal and parochial renewal.

"There is a bias in Renew for immanence...the emphasis is on the God who is among us...ours is a God who has embraced our humanity in the fullest possible way...Jesus is understood immanently in his concrete humanity and historicity...ministry arises out of the people and belongs to the people."

"In Renew the church is more a people than an institution...a definite bias toward the community model of church...the single most revealing element of any theology is its ecclesiology, its understanding of God, Jesus and the faith of a people. One's ecclesiology also reveals a theology of ministry and a sense of mission. That is why Renew clearly commits itself to a model of church that is a community of disciples...a model that is inclusive rather than exclusive or elitist, and one that nurtures itself for mission rather than for self-service."

It is our opinion that the overemphasis of these theological positions causes the Renew process to favor certain aspects of Catholic life to the exclusion of other equally important aspects . This results in an imbalance which can be doctrinally misleading. The total renewal of our people requires, in the long run and for our unity as a church, an understanding and appreciation of the full gamut of Catholic theology and doctrine. While Renew does not claim to offer a course in catechetics or a theological overview, nonetheless it does state that intends "to create a 'theology,' a way of understanding God, Jesus , church, etc., for our time." Therefore, it does have the responsibility to offer a balanced theological perspective.

Some of the "exclusions," in our opinion, that would enrich the Renew theological component and give it a better balance are: a clearer presentation of the distinctive nature of the Catholic Church, not merely as a community of faith but as a structured, hierarchical, visible, sacramental community bound together in a tradition that includes Scripture as a font of faith but also the authoritative development and interpretation of the doctrines of faith by the magisterium of the church; a more balanced presentation of the models of church which broadens considerably the sole emphasis on community; the insistence that God's revelation, and not just personal experience, is the norm for deeper understanding and appreciation of authentic faith.

While we applaud the strategy of Renew to call people to greater responsibility for the mission of the church, and their consequent ministerial roles, we are concerned that a corresponding emphasis on the sacrament of orders is missing. Unless the necessary and unique ministerial priesthood is constantly balance with emerging lay ministries in the church, a distorted vision about the future of ministry can develop, and a confused ecclesiology.

3. The cognitive dimensions of faith need more emphasis.
We are grateful that Renew has developed a process which stresses the contemporary need to touch the affective, emotional and personal faith experiences within a supportive community of believers. At the same time, we think there is need in the Renew process to emphasize more clearly the cognitive, intellectual aspects of faith life. The large group experience can be used to make this presentation. Clearer support should also be given to the need to relate people not only to the parish, but also more effectively to the diocese and the universal church.

We are concerned that the emphasis of Renew on personal and shared "experience as the locus of revelation" can lead to fundamentalism and the privatization of religious truth. Our people must always be made aware of the basis for our faith in Jesus Christ.

We note that Renew is not just a "brief, intensive event such as a weekend experience or retreat" -- rather it is a diocesan wide three-year process of conversion and formation. Because of its duration and impact on the local church, we have to be concerned about the effects it has on the orthodoxy and orthopraxis of our people. The cognitive dimensions of faith cannot be separated from any extended process of renewal or formation in the church if we are to maintain our Catholic unity.

4. The eucharist needs broader definition and an emphasis on sacrifice and worship.
We note the effective way the authors of Renew relate the ordinary things of life to eucharist, and the centrality of eucharist in Catholic prayer. However, we have concerns about the singular emphasis in some of the material on the communal meal, and the paraliturgical agape that can leas to confusion about the essential nature of he eucharistic sacrifice.

Perhaps the main cause of concern for the critics of Renew and one of the weaknesses we recognize in the process is the fact that basic Christian tenants are presented...

We anticipate that the diocesan response to criticism made in "Origins" is that "the program is now updated and these problems no longer exists. The materials and methods of presentation now reflect ..." or words to that effect.

The VIEW suggests that Renew participants include this article with other program materials to assist in making their own informed evaluation. Being aware of these concerns will allow you to look for them and evaluate the program's orthodoxy.

Please write us to obtain a complete copy of the original "Origins" article, on which this review is based.

IS THIS WHAT YOU'RE PAYING $22,300 A YEAR FOR?

I tell my nieces and nephews
to go to a secular college
where they will have to fight
for their faith and not to a
Catholic college where it
will be taken away from them.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Dear Dad and Mom:

Sorry I haven't written for so long, but I spent Easter vacation at Palm Springs, and I've been trying to "recover" ever since. Only kidding. I did spend a lot of money there, though. Could you send me some? Thanks.

Not much happening back on ye olde campus of Santa Clara U. Classes are the same boring thing--and basketball is over. I guess the high point was a lecture by Prof. Mary Jo Weaver on April 15. She's a professor of religious studies at Indiana University--yep, right where you hale from, Dad, -- and the author of two books. I had to go to her lecture called "What's Wrong with Being Right?" It's a requirement of the "Women in Biblical Traditions" class. But there were a lot of my friends there, and the lecture was right-on.

Weaver really knows how to bash these fanatics, that's for sure. She compared right-wing Catholics to the Ayatollah Khumeini, Bob Jones University, Mother Angelica, and Pope John Paul II. Guess that about sums it up! She said these fundamentalists are "religious believers with the volume turned up," blaring out a selective truth that excludes gays and feminists and requires obedience to the pope.

Of course, we all cheered like mad. Nobody likes the pope.

Prof. Weaver sounds like she grew up just like you did, Dad. She was born in 1942 in a "back-water, non-ecumenical" mid-western town. She attended parochial school and learned the Baltimore Catechism from nuns, who said the Catholic Church is the one, true Church. We all got a great laugh out of that. She doesn't feel the same as you do about her teachers, though. She thinks they were full of beans, mostly. Their full habits shackled their minds, she said. I thought that was pretty funny!

Throughout high school and college, she stayed strong in the faith, but after graduation, she was influenced by friends at work. She "began to adjust to a new world and looked at the world differently." Religion became a "private matter." The social justice issues of Vatican II pushed her towards dropping the old faith. "Vatican II was a pivotal moment," she said.

I've heard you say the same thing, Dad, but in a different context. You're probably one of the guys she would call a right-winger, but I'll be tolerant. You sign a great check! Hah. Hah. Just kidding.

After Vatican II, Weaver saw that conservatives looked for authority in the pope and a "rigid past," one she was trying to reject. In her studies, she discovered "the limitation of papal authority" in Humanae Vitae. Pope Paul VI went against his own appointed committee's decision and the "majority opinion." She and other liberals were compelled to dissent, naturally.

Weaver said "our experience in the world" is the basis for religion. That sounds right-on to me. She said "liberals thrive in an atmosphere of dissent," whereas conservatives have a "sense of security rooted in fear" and live in a narrow, intellectual world.

I don't really understand all this stuff, Dad and Mom. I always thought the Church had it pretty much together, but apparently this controversy thing is growing. My teachers are real angry about the way things are, and they want to change it. Weaver summed up with five points:

First, she says conservative groups like the Blue Army really dread the future. They think priests are leading people astray. They don't like stupid things like women not wearing hats at Mass, taking communion in the hand, the laxity of sexual morality, sex-ed and stuff. Boy, if you could have seen the stuff happening in Palm Springs, you would see how out-of-it those old fogies really are.

Second, she said conservative nuns, represented by the Institute for Religious Life, are a mere 10 per cent of all religious. They still pray the divine office, aspire to the obedience and virginity of Mary and wear habits. Ninety percent of the other nuns, represented by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, are where the action is.

Third, the four colleges that were established to "protest Vatican II are intellectually isolated and have no voice in Catholic education." I guess that includes St. Thomas Aquinas and Christendom, Mom. Those were the two you had picked out, remember?

Fourth, home-schooling and large families should get with the program. The professor pointed out that large, home-schooling families often have low incomes. She said she attended a home-schooling conference in Bardstown, Ky., and saw "the older siblings spending a lot of time taking care of the younger ones." Reminded me of my own two sisters, you know? How many does Jenny have now? Six. Wow. I gotta send my sex-ed book home to Jim. Anyway, Weaver said she questions the ability of home-schooling parents to educate their own children: "I don't see them as having the expertise."

Fifth, she said "who is right or wrong is not a liberal goal." I thought that was nice. But we all got a laugh out of the conservative goal: getting to Heaven. Wow! They must be Neanderthals. Literally! Weaver said we should include gays and agnostics in ecumenical conversations.

She summed it up by saying that things have changed. "Anyone under 25 doesn't understand the Real Presence." I guess that sums up where I stand, too. I mean, I used to believe it. But after coming to SCU, how could anyone believe in that old God?

Hope none of this worries you guys. I'm cool.

Don't forget to send money, Dad.

Love, Clark

* Tuition at Santa Clara University in 1995-96 is $15,450. Room and board is about $6,780.

VIVA BISHOP BRUSKEWITZ!

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska has thrown a bombshell into the nation's far left, dissident Catholic community and the after-shocks are still being felt in every sector in America.

In late March, Bishop Bruskewitz said he will excommunicate members of his flock who belong to any of twelve groups whose aims are incompatible with the true Catholic faith. His targets include: Planned Parenthood; Catholics for a Free Choice; Call to Action; The Hemlock Society; and Masonic organizations.

According to Catholic scholars, Bishop Bruskewitz is the only prelate in modern time to threaten such a blanket excommunication. Under this directive, Catholics may attend Mass but are forbidden to receive Holy Communion and other sacraments.

Planned Parenthood is one of the world's leading abortion providers, while Call To Action, a liberal Chicago-based organization, promotes "dialogue" on such issues as women in the priesthood and clerical celibacy. The Hemlock Society is a right-to-die organization.

The VIEW salutes Bishop Bruskewitz. He is a true leader of the Church who is willing to stand up for his beliefs and act on them. Would that more bishops had his courage!

BRIGHT & DIM VIEWS

BRIGHT VIEWS

Cardinal Joseph Bernardin stood up to the abortion President in condemning infanticide before Clinton vetoed the so-called partial abortion ban passed by both the House and Senate.

The late George Burns left $100,000 to Star of the Sea School in San Francisco in memory of his wife Gracie Allen who graduated from there in 1914.

A recent poll indicates that support for abortion rights among California voters has dropped slightly during the past year.

DIM VIEWS

The Notre Dame Sisters, at 14800 Bohlman Road, Saratoga, recently hosted the 'Catholic' Women's Network for a day retreat.

The nation's largest video rental chain, Blockbuster, recently made the Disney-Miramax movie 'Priest' available for rental. This blasphemous and anti-Catholic film was condemned by the leaders of Christian and non-Christian faiths.

A recent film, 'Gospa', that favorable portrays the Catholic Church and her priests, received almost no publicity and a very limited run in local theaters.

REFERENCES

Diocese of San Jose (Dioecesis Sancti Josephi in California)
Established January 27, 1981
Most Reverend Pierre DuMaine, D.D., Ph.D.
First Bishop of San Jose; ordained June 5, 1957; appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco and Titular Bishop of Sarda April 28, 1978; Episcopal Ordination June 29, 1978; appointed Bishop of San Jose January 27, 1981. Office: Diocese of San Jose, 841 Lenzen Avenue, San Jose, CA 95126-2700

Most Reverend Fabian Bruskewitz
Diocese of Lincoln
PO Box 80328
Lincoln, NE 68501

PAST ISSUES OF THE VIEW

Vol. 3 No. 2 - March/April 1996

OTHER CATHOLIC LINKS

| Una Voce Rochester New York | 1962 Missal Romanum | Traditional Latin Mass | TRADITIO Home Page |

| The Holy See | Guide to Early Church Documents | EWTN | Catechism of St. Pius X |

| Catholic Tradition, Action & Counter-Revolution Web Page |

Webmaster: RACOX & Associates