Thursday, October 31, 2013

Put up or shut up

A very public kerfuffle has arisen between Councilman Jim Oddo and a Jesuit priest over the issue of Mount Manresa. After repeated public criticism by Oddo and other politicians, the Jesuit order finally hit back in the form of a very strongly worded -even rude- opinion article in the Advance.

In it, the Rev. Mark Hallinan, S.J., the pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel/ Saint Benedicta church in West Brighton, justified the actions of the Order. In response to Oddo's criticism that the Jesuits weren't being "generous", Rev. Hallinan writes that the Order has been generous for 100 years by maintaining a large and beautiful property from which neighbors freely benefited. (Two points: 1. he seems to be acknowledging that by selling the property now, the property value of neighboring homes would be harmed, and 2. it's a bit much to claim that the Order was being generous by maintaining the property for 100 years. That was the whole purpose for which you were given donations in the first place: to purchase and maintain the land and the property for the use of the people donating the money and for the use of the Church as a whole. That's like saying that if a man pays me to paint his fence, I should be regarded as "generous" for beautifying the landscape. I'm starting to understand the meaning of the word "jesuitical".)

The Rev. continues to emphasize the Order's "generosity" by listing the various social services they performed, such as letting AA meet there and providing temporary housing to 9/11 workers and Sandy victims. I find it interesting that the accomplishments for which he is most proud have nothing to do with the retreat house's mission (i.e. Catholic renewal and evangelization) but are secular in nature, a distortion of values which lies at the heart of Mount Manresa's demise. He goes on to say that the Jesuits only decided to sell the property after a "careful and lengthy discernment process", an assertion which is pure bunk, as the spokesmen for Mount Manresa were lying about the property's future and raising funds up to the moment the sale was announced. Rev. Hallinan concludes by telling Oddo and his alllies to raise $15 million dollars and to "PUT UP OR SHUT UP", an inappropriate and vile thing for a priest to say, let alone write in a public newspaper.

Does Rev. Hallinan speak for the order? Does he speak for the Order in such a vulgar and non-Christian manner? Or is he yet another priest who shouldn't be allowed near a microphone or a word processing program?


Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to attend a Bible Study retreat in the Summer of 2012 at Mt. Manresa. It was great because it was hosted by Fr. Mitch Pacwa; his teaching was excellent! I do remember, however, several things about my stay that gave me pause. For instance, on the first day, after evening mass (when Fr. Pacwa had left for the evening) a man stood up, dressed in a tee shirt and slacks and announced that he would now be hearing our confessions. Perhaps others were familiar with him already and knew he was a priest, but I certainly could never have known. It's bad enough that he wore no clerical garb, but you would think he would at least-for those who did not know him--announce, "My name is Fr. such and such etc." I was also disappointed that he waited until after mass to hear confessions, for obvious reasons. On another day he seemed to very pointedly (I admit, it could have been a coincidence) walk out in the middle of Fr. Pacwa's comments on the destructive force of radical feminism in the Church.

I suppose Fr. Pacwa's sound teaching and moral conservatism vs. the other Jesuit's apparent laxity (and perhaps liberalism) epitomizes a polarization within the Jesuit order. Or is it worse than that? Is Fr. Pacwa a anomaly among the Jesuits, while the liberal kind is the overwhelming norm?

Staten Pilgrim said...

That's a fascinating story. I too would have been hesitant to go confess to someone in a t-shirt and slacks. Walking out during the speech of Father Pacwa deserves comment as well. Did he not return? If not, that says something right there.

I know there are orthodox Jesuits. But they seem to be few and far between and are probably dying out. If you were an orthodox young man, why would you join the Jesuits? Their reputation for heterodoxy is well-deserved. An orthodox priest would be an outcast among them. Malachi Martin wrote a great book called "The Jesuits" which details how they got the way they are and how the Order has resisted attempts by various Popes to get them to be Catholic. They are essentially a church within the Church beholden to no man, not even the Pope. They need to be radically reformed at least, and in the worst case scenario suppressed. But is a Jesuit Pope of ambiguous opinions going to do it? Unlikely.

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