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Gotham: Catholic Crazytown

Cardinal Dolan, holding on to his hat a katz / Shutterstock.com

What on earth is happening to Catholics in the Archdiocese of New York? Yesterday, Maureen Mullarkey wrote (again) about the outrageous wreckovation and rolling destruction of the church of Our Saviour, a midtown parish that Father George Rutler had made extraordinarily beautiful, and into a thriving beacon of Catholic orthodoxy. Then the cardinal sent Rutler away, and the dismantling began. Mullarkey says it’s part of a pattern she calls the “treason of the clerisy”. Excerpt:

The debacle at Our Saviour is a symptom of bureaucratic conditions more critical than any clash of taste in church décor. Umbrage over “the integrity of the art” is a red herring. If that were the essential factor, this would be a minor local foofaraw. But it is not minor; and the breach of trust on display extends beyond locale to the temper of our clerical bureaucracy itself.

At its simplest level, the stripping of the icons is a case study in pastoral stupidity. One pastor’s distaste for his predecessor’s design decisions is no basis to eliminate elements that contributed to revival of a once-failing parish. No sensible steward destroys the heart of the renascence with which he has been entrusted. Those icons were sign and symbol of that very rebirth craved by the New Evangelization.

This disaster cannot be neatly shoehorned into the confines of rivalry between traditionalists and modernizers. Fr. Rutler introduced a Latin Mass into the parish schedule, but he himself presided at the Novus Ordo. And he never used his prerogatives to move the free-standing altar back to its original position against the east wall of the sanctuary. Ideology rears its ugly head largely in the fact that the two parishes to which Fr. Rutler was reassigned—pastor of one, administrator of the other—were slated for closure within a year of his arrival.

Nothing explains Fr. Robbins’ behavior, or supposed archdiocesan ignorance of it, except institutional rot. This is an instance of clerical corruption, a fiduciary and ethical betrayal. The treason of the clerisy is an assault on the integrity of those moral ideals they are pledged to preserve. It is an assault on their own calling and on our fidelity to it.

You might want to read the whole thing. She says the clergy like Fr. Robbins, who shares quarters with his organist, are helping the church to dig its own grave.

Today, Steve Skojec chronicles the Archdiocese’s ongoing destruction of St. Agnes parish, once a bastion of the Traditional Latin Mass. The longtime choirmaster resigned was fired after a dispute over music with the pastor (who reportedly denounced polyphony as “too intellectual”), and the new guy the pastor hired just married will soon marry his same-sex partner. From Cardinal Dolan’s chancery? Silence.

What do you Catholic readers in the NY Archdiocese think? Why is this happening? It’s simply bizarre.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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