Friday, February 8, 2013

Bishop John Michael D'Arcy- Hero or Zero?

It has been a number of years since I posted on this blog. However, with the passing of Bishop John M. D'Arcy on Sunday, I cannot help but add to what is being written about this man. Bishop D'Arcy was a strong proponent of LifeTeen and the dangers that it caused. When confronted with documented information about problems with it in his own diocese in 2006 and 2007, he not only ordered silence under obedience, but also under obedience ordered it's continuation. He did not believe one of his own priests when told that another of his priests was abusing in his diocese. He, in the end, intimidated him and tried to destroy him. He did not succeed. What he did succeed in doing is driving even deeper underground the clerical sexual abuse and by being perceived as a leader in this area, made anyone who tried to call him out look like a fool with a chip on their shoulder.

Certain publications, i.e. the New York Times, South Bend Tribune, etc... have hailed Bishop D'Arcy as a hero. A hero he is not. He may have written letters to Cardinal Bernard Law in the mid-1980s, but his concern was not for victims as much as it was to keep what was happening buried even deeper... which is what he did in the Diocese of Ft. Wayne/South Bend for the entirety of his 25 years as Bishop Ordinary. In none of the letters he wrote, did he ever advocate going to the authorities. In none of the letters he wrote did he write of contacting victims to help them. John M. D'Arcy is no hero... he is one of the clerical bishops who wanted to keep the Roman Catholic Church from scandal, but went about it in a way very few others had.

His activities against those he was called to lead do not end there. Whenever anyone disagreed with him he would-- by legal means or otherwise-- retaliate. People would be fired for not bowing to his autocratic views. People would be harassed and humiliated until they bowed to his viewpoint. To me, these are not the qualities of a hero... they are closer to the qualities of a zero, a person who has no true integrity but portrays themselves as possessing it.

I can't say I'm sad to see him gone, but hopefully with one less vehement proponent of LifeTeen around, the program will weaken... that is my prayer.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Finally-- A New Post!!

It's been a while since I posted, but I just wanted to share a few thoughts and reply to the individual who took the time to comment on the last post.

Everything that is on this blog has been documented and researched. A careful reading of the posts will certainly illustrate this. Additionally, I am not mad about anything. My reason for posting the information contained hereon is merely to keep people out of harm's way. It is clear, again if the site is read from the very first post, that there are elements inherent to the entire LifeTeen program that are quite dangerous if individuals with certain proclivities get involved in the program. The fact that there are a large number of those individuals around makes the problem even more pressing.

In addition, it would be a sin to not warn people when they are in harm's way.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

LifeTeen Founder Excommunicated

It seems like the founder of LifeTeen has finally been excommunicated. Not for abusing children, mind you, but for starting a new church-- the Praise and Worship Center in Phoenix, AZ. See the link here.

While it is good that he finally has been punished, the issue of his impropriety with children still has not been fully addressed by the Roman Church... in Rome or Arizona. When will the bishops look at the damage that they are causing by not addressing problem priests in their dioceses? When will the priests with problems stop hurting people, and others stop covering up for them?

Let us all pray that no more children are harmed.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Confirmation of Ft. Wayne- South Bend's Action

Another blog, the Deacon's Blog, has confirmed the story about Ms. Nan Gilbert. This blog is run by a Deacon in the Polish National Catholic Church, and he has some very good information as well. Read some of the entries while you're there!

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Website

I have run across a new website that is very good, and recommend it highly to those who might be considering leaving the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church, or to those who might just want to know why people do. It's called, aptly, Leaving the Priesthood. Check it out!

Fort Wayne- South Bend Does It Again

Well, it seems that the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, IN has once again used it muscle to take away the livelihood of one of it's employees. The person in charge of the food service department and cafeteria at Marian High School in Mishawaka, IN has lost her job of 9 years, which has brought an annual profit to the school of approximately a quarter million US Dollars each year, because she would not renounce her membership in the Polish National Catholic Church. Ms. Nan Gilbert (her name is still, as of this writing, on the Marian website) has personally contacted me about this situation and it is outrageous. This is total and utter religious discrimination that obviously comes from the top-down-- Bishop John M. D'Arcy. Bishop D'Arcy has run roughshod over employment law with diocesan employees for over 20 years, from keeping out a teacher's union to forcing people to sign less favorable contracts when the previous ones were still in effect to firing people due to their strongly held religious convictions.

She is a member of the Polish National Catholic Church, and according to the 2006 Joint Declaration on Unity, there should be no proselytism among members of the two sister churches. So, not only has D'Arcy broken State and Federal discrimination laws, he has also broken a concordat signed by the leaders of both the Roman Catholic and Polish National Catholic Churches which was brought about as a result of a dialogue started at the request of the late Pope John Paul II in 1982 (official meetings having begun in 1984). The biannual meetings can be seen here.

So, not only does Bishop D'Arcy fully support LifeTeen and it's pedophilic bent, but he also breaks the Roman Catholic Canons (see Canon 844, paragraphs 2-3) and the results of years of ecumenical dialogue. In doing this, he shows that he has no regard for people who give their lives for the school and a church that is not even their own.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Scandal of Mandatory Celibacy in the Roman Church

Go back 900 years... priests in the Western Church were married, had families, and ministered to their flocks. Obviously, it was an effective ministry as it was a very large church and growing. Bishops also had families, as did Popes-- 39 of them to be exact. However, a problem began. The dioceses were legally in the name of the presiding bishop. Not a problem until the presiding bishop passes away. The diocese becomes a part of the inheritance and then goes to the family. This causes a problem for the central authority of the church. They lose the land, buildings and other property. So... what is the logical choice? Change the way that the church is administrated? No! They pass a canonical law mandating that clergy are forbidden to marry... to have families... to live a normal life. All in order to protect money and property.

The problem here is that God created man AND woman. He created them as complimentary. In essence, man and woman are meant to be together. From that union comes the continuing population of the world. Since it is created by God, and is in the natural order, to state that it is forbidden if one desires to serve Him sounds absolutely ludicrous.

So... fast forward 850 or 900 years to the last century and the present day. Training for the priesthood as we know it today takes years... many years. Actually, for a dioscean priest it is typically 6-8 years-- in religious orders it can be longer. Let me say at this point, throughout history, certain individuals have felt a deep call to forego a relationship with another person in order to live a solitary life in union with God. This is indeed a calling-- a calling that few have-- but a beautiful calling none the less. The problem is that the vast majority of people... even the vast majority of people who God calls to serve His people... do not have this calling. When one is taken out of part of the natural order of progression with regard to psychosexual development, that development is arrested wherever the individual was removed. Sometimes a regression happens as well, and the person actually becomes LESS mature psychosexually. This can cause a problem. Desire for intimate union with another person on all levels (emotional, intellectual, spiritual AND physical) is a part of the human beings that God created us to be. The desires for all four levels of intimacy do not go away just because a person chooses to ignore them. In the inner sanctum of the seminary and celibate priesthood, a person can realistically fulfill the emotional, intellectual and spiritual intimacy connections. Where the problem lies is in the physical intimacy portion.

The argument from the side of the mandatory celibatists (my word) is that even in a marriage, the physical intimate union is a small part of the marriage. However, it is in those moments where the two become one that the union that is there between them becomes physically manifested. God created human beings to be both spiritual AND physical. This is what separates humans from angels, an angel is only spiritual. Humans are actually of a higher level of creation. This higher level of creation then creates a physical hunger. This hunger is not a bad thing. Sometimes, like the hunger for food, it must be rationally managed lest it get out of control. However, to CONSTANTLY ignore a hunger for food causes death. In the case of the hunger for physical intimacy, to constantly ignore it (except in the rarest of cases) causes death of the self. It causes death of some of the other levels of intimacy as well. In addition, it many times causes a cold-heartedness and callousness in the person that can lead to a lack of compassion and empathy.

When this lack of compassion and empathy occur, and this is coupled with a physical desire for an intimate physical union with another, and when this is contained in a person who is underdeveloped and immature psychosexually, it can cause problems. The problems it causes can be seen in the scandals that have been coming out of the church in the last decade or two. And these, I fear, are just the tip of the iceburg.

LifeTeen is dangerous for just this reason. As can easily be seen elsewhere on this site, it is set up so that it is very easy for someone who is psychosexaully immature and starved for physical intimacy to use someone who is also vulnerable in any number of ways to feed this hunger. This is an inappropriate way to feed the hunger. It is a scandal in itself that an institution which purports to follow Christ's example mandates something that is outside of the natural order of creation, indeed something that is sacramentalized!

The scandal of pedophilia is horrible. The pain that it causes is deep. It is a travesty that I feel called to do what I can to stop. However, as long as mandatory celibacy continues to exist, the arrested psychosexual development will as well. And as long as things like LifeTeen continue to exist, it will give an improper outlet for those who feel compelled to feed the hunger. The scandal is not over... it is continuing... and growing.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Blessed New Year

A blessed and joyous New Year to all!!!

If there are any questions about anything on this website, please feel free to e-mail me using the link provided!!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas

A day late, but a very Merry and Blessed Christmas to all!

And a Happy New Year as well!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Golden Compass- A Few Thoughts

The movie The Golden Compass takes a look at the problems facing the world and the Roman Catholic Church in a way that is quite compelling- a fantasy genre. The obvious reference to the 'Magisterium' (the teaching authority of the Roman Church) is obvious and a main theme within the film.

Even more compelling for the theme of this blog is the way in which some of the children were selected to be separated from their parents by the Magisterium. The Magisterium would then separate the children from their daemons (souls) so that they could have greater control over them--- and the universe that the Magisterium wants to control after they find a way to cross into the parallel universes. It is in the parallel universes that the Magisterium lacks control and they want to expand their influence and control.

The obvious parallel between contemporary thought on youth ministry as personified by Life Teen and the Magisterium separating the souls from the children is quite striking. This makes it all the more important that a family-based model of ministry be introduced so that the souls of the children and teenagers are not corrupted for the greater good of the institution.

Any ministry should, in the end, bring people closer to God and a personal relationship with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ-- not an institution that is made up of human beings. The argument has been that the Church cannot be separated from Christ. However, when an individual human being claims the power (albeit rarely officially used) of infallibility, it is parallel to saying that that person has the power of God, since only God is infallible. The Roman Church, in the ordinary and universal magisterium, claims this very power in two ways-- 1) All of the bishops together as a group and 2) In the person of the Pope.

I am not going to make a statement about this, but only bring up a point to ponder-- Could it not be said that when a man (or group of men) claim to be God that there is something in the institution that goes against Scripture and the Word of God Himself? Also, would this view not taint any youth ministry that comes from-- or is STRONGLY endorsed by-- the magisterium? These questions I will allow the reader to prayerfully consider.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Clarification and History

It has been a while since I posted, and this is because I have been doing research into information about the Catholic Church that I ran across in my findings about LifeTeen. That information will be posted after I put it together.

However, it seems that there could be a question as to whether I am applying these ideas to all youth ministry. Indeed, I am not. I am only familiar with LifeTeen and their principles, which corrospond to the modus operandi of pedophiles as they groom their victims. I spent a year working in the prison where John Geoghan and other criminally prosecuted (mostly non- clergy) pedophiles and ephebophiles were housed, and each one of them had the same mode of operation as to how they went about choosing and grooming their victims. The suggestions outlined in the earlier blog entry are exactly the same.

In addition to this, Dale Fushek, as of this post, still has 7 counts against him. As the founder and designer of the program, he obviously used what he knew.

As for modern youth ministry, if done well and stripped of the 'grooming' principles that at best will attract and tempt those with pedophile and ephebophile tendencies into positions of leadership, can be beneficial. More beneficial would be ministering to FAMILIES, instead of just youth. Many of the problems could be avoided if the parent(s) of the children were involved as well. This would be a beneficial step in the progression of ministry to the underserved and disinfranchised.

After spending 7 years in Boston (1997-2004) at the height of the Boston Priest Scandal, I saw a number of men I knew (rightfully) accused. I saw the pain of the victims and counseled some myself. My hope, prayer and, yes, mission, is to do what I can to make sure that children are never harmed again in the name of Jesus Chrst. That is my heart, and if that means being too careful, then so be it, but it is out of love for the souls of all that I am.

I hope that this helps to clarify any confusion.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Article on the Eucharistic Congress

Diocesan celebration at ND on Saturday
Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend invites the public to join in the celebration of its 150th anniversary at the daylong Eucharistic Congress on Saturday at the University of Notre Dame.

The Eucharistic Congress -- called "Behold the Face of Christ: His Steadfast Love Endures Forever" this year -- will be a highlight of the yearlong events known as the Sesquicentennial Jubilee.

The day's events will begin at 10 a.m. with an ecumenical service at Sacred Heart Basilica, followed by a reception in the lounge of the Coleman-Morse building on campus. (Those who plan to attend the interfaith service and who are interested in being put on a parking list can contact Nancy Cavadini at 574-291-6404 until 5 p.m. Friday.)

Throughout the day, local and national speakers will lead workshop sessions on faith issues of interest to adults, youths and families. Among the speakers' topics will be "Faith and Culture," "MSI: Mass Scene Investigation," "Understanding Islam," "Can Ethics Be Taught?: Reclaiming Moral Character" and "Praying as a Couple: Can We Do It Together?"Ennie Hickman, youth minister for St. Timothy Parish in Meza, Ariz., will be the keynote speaker at 11 a.m. in Washington Hall. (Mark Hart, known as the "Bible Geek" and the keynote speaker originally announced, had a medical emergency this week.)

Hickman, who graduated from Franciscan University in 2001 with a degree in theology and minors in human life studies and communications, works to change lives by communicating the Gospel and by connecting with teens in a unique way.

He has spoken at large retreats in the United States, Eastern Europe and Africa, and is a contributor to Life Teen, a Catholic movement that helps bring teens closer to God.

Throughout the day, exhibits of merchants and religious orders and a Catholic art exhibit will be on display in the Joyce Center. Other ongoing activities will include 45 reconciliation sites (look for the yellow umbrellas around campus), praying at the Stations of the Cross at the basilica or around St. Joseph Lake, continuous praying of the rosary at The Grotto, and eucharistic exposition and adoration of the sacrament in Alumni Hall.

The Most Rev. John M. D'Arcy, the diocese's bishop, will concelebrate the closing Mass with many of the diocese's priests. Doors will open at 3 p.m. at the Joyce Center for those who plan to attend the Mass.A prelude to the Mass will begin at the Joyce Center with a brass and hand bells performance just before 4 p.m., followed by music performed by a choir made up of more than 200 participants from the diocese and a slide show of artwork by students from the four Catholic high schools and five Catholic colleges within the diocese.

After the prelude and before the Mass, youths from the diocese will carry the Jubilee Cross into the Joyce Center. As well as the bishop and clergy, the procession will include an honor guard of the Knights of Columbus and a native Miami Indian tribe.

A reception following the Mass, at about 6:30 p.m., will be held in honor of D'Arcy on his 75th birthday, which is Saturday.After leaving the Joyce Center following the Mass, those who wish to attend the reception should re-enter the building at Gate 3.

[Emphasis mine]

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Interesting to Note

According to the South Bend Tribune August 16, 2007 edition, ( the Diocese of Ft. Wayne- South Bend in Indiana hosted a jubilee celebration at the University of Notre Dame on Saturday August 18, 2007. The keynote speaker for this was Ennie Hickman, who is the head of Life Teen at the founding parish of St. Timothy's in Mesa, AZ.

It is also interesting to note that Mr. Hickman was a replacement for Mark Hart, a Vice President of Life Teen. Is this a sign that this program is endorsed by the Ft. Wayne/ South Bend Diocese? Indeed the only corporate sponsor on the Life Teen website ( is Our Sunday Visitor. The bishop of the Ft. Wayne- South Bend Diocese is the CEO of this organization. It makes one think of how rapidly this organization is spreading.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A few Thoughts

This blog is the result of research done while I was at a large parish where LifeTeen has been in place for over a decade. All places are different, but the program itself is inherently dangerous since it is designed to make young people vulnerable. This in and of itself is enough to make it quite suspicious.

I suggest that you scroll down to the bottom and read the last article first, then move up the blog. This information was taken down for quite some time, but now is back up because the information is so important for as many to know as possible.

May God Bless You!!!

LifeTeen is Dangerous- And Other Thoughts

LifeTeen is Dangerous
This blog will show mounting evidence that LifeTeen, a Catholic youth program, is inherently dangerous, and other things about the Roman Catholic Church, both good and bad.

Monday, October 23, 2006
Liturgy and Big Business

We have all ready seen in the entry 'A Look at LifeTeen' that LifeTeen, Inc. is a substantial business entity, incorporated in the State of Arizona. However, there is an even larger corporation that has an even more profound effect on American Catholic liturgy. In a 2002 article from Crisis Magazine, J.A. Tucker looks at the massive effect that Oregon Catholic Press has on the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in many U.S. parishes.This can be found here: Or, it is reprinted here for your convieniemce:-------------------------------------------------------------

The Hidden Hand Behind Bad Catholic Music
By J.A. Tucker

Well, if your missalettes are like those issued in more than half of American parishes, they're copyrighted by the Oregon Catholic Press (OCP)-the leading Catholic purveyor of bad music in the United States. Four times a year, it prints and distributes 4.3 million copies of the seemingly unobjectionable booklets (which OCP doesn't call missalettes).

But that's just the beginning of its massive product line, where each item is integrated perfectly with the others to make liturgical planning quick and easy. To instruct and guide parish musicians and liturgy teams, the OCP prints hymnals, choral scores, children's song books, Mass settings, liturgy magazines (with detailed instructions that are slavishly followed by parishes around the country), and CDs for planning liturgies and previewing the newest music.

This collection of products, however, does not include a hymnal-or anything else-designed to appeal to traditional sensibilities (its Heritage Hymnal is deceptively misnamed). The OCP's experts never tire of promoting the new, rewriting the old, and inviting you to join them in their quest to "sing a new church into being" (as one of their hit songs urges). The one kind of "new" that the OCP systematically avoids is the new vogue of traditional music that has proved so appealing to young Catholics.

The bread and butter of the OCP are the 10,000 music copyrights it owns. It employs a staff of 150, runs year-round liturgy workshops all over the United States, sponsors affiliates in England and Australia, and keeps songwriters all over the English-speaking world on its payroll. In fact, it's the preferred institutional home of those now-aging "St. Louis Jesuits" who swept out the old in 1969 and, by the mid-1970s, had parishes across the country clapping and strumming and tapping to the beat.

The OCP also sails under the flags of companies it has acquired, established, or represented along the way: New Dawn Music, Pastoral Press, North American Liturgy Resources, Trinitas, TEAM Publications, White Dove Productions, and Cooperative Ministries. Every time it purchases-or assumes the distribution of-another publisher, its assets and influence grow.

Power Without Authority

But while the OCP dictates the liturgies of most U.S. parishes, it has no ecclesiastical authority. It's a large nonprofit corporation-a publishing wing of the Diocese of Portland-and nothing else. It has never been empowered by the U.S. bishops, much less Rome, to oversee music or liturgy in American parishes.
The OCP's power over Catholic liturgy is derived entirely from its copyrights, phenomenal sales, and marketing genius. Nonetheless, it wields the decisive power in determining the musical culture of most public Masses in the United States.

And once a parish dips into the product line of the OCP, it is very difficult to avoid full immersion. So complete and integrated is their program that it actually reconstructs the sense that the liturgy team has about what Catholicism is supposed to feel and sound like.

But few of those subject to the power of the OCP understand that it's the reason why Catholic liturgy so often seems like something else entirely. For example, pastors who try to control the problem by getting a grip on their liturgies quite often sense that they're dealing with an amorphous power without a name or face. That's because very few bother to examine the lay-directed materials that are shaping the liturgies. Too many priests are willing to leave music to the musicians, fearing that they lack the competence to intervene.

Meanwhile, the nature of the OCP is completely unknown to most laypeople. Many Catholics shudder, for example, when they hear the words Glory & Praise, the prototypical assortment of musical candy that was already stale about 15 years ago but which mysteriously continues to be repackaged and rechewed in parish after parish. "Here I am, Lord," "Be Not Afraid," "City of God," "One Bread, One Body," "Celtic Alleuia," and (wait for it) "On Eagle's Wings"-these all come courtesy of the OCP.

But at the publisher itself, this moldy repertoire is not an embarrassment. On the contrary, the publisher brags that Glory & Praise, whose copyright it acquired in 1994, continues to be the best-selling Catholic hymnal of all time. And what about those prayers of the faithful that seem far more politically than doctrinally correct? They're probably from the OCP, too. A new edition of its Prayer of the Faithful is printed every year. (In what is surely great news for the unrepentant, the OCP brags that the volume helpfully includes "creative alternatives to the Penitential Rite.")

Hijacking of Catholic Truth

It wasn't always like this. Before 1980, the OCP was called the Oregon Catholic Truth Society. It was founded in 1922 in response to a compulsory school-education law that forced Catholics to attend public schools. Archbishop Alexander Christie got together with his priests to found the society. Its aim: to fight bigotry and stand up for truth and Catholic rights.

In 1934, the Oregon Catholic Truth Society released a missal called My Sunday Missal. It was good-looking, inexpensive, and easy to use. It became the most popular missal ever (you can still run across it in used bookstores).

But the rest of the story is as familiar as it is troubling. Sometime in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Oregon Catholic Truth Society began to lose its moorings. Catholic truth had to make room for the Age of Aquarius.

Thus, in the course of a single decade, a once-reliable representative of Catholic teaching became reliably unreliable. Money given to the organization to promote truth was now being used to advance a revolutionary approach to Catholic life, one that repudiated traditional forms of the faith. The only thing that did not change was the breadth of its influence: Under the new dispensation, it was still a powerhouse of Catholic publishing.

De Profundis

If you've been keeping up with the OCP's latest offerings, you know that the songs from the mid-1970s don't begin to plumb the depths. The newest OCP hymnals are jam-packed with music from the 1980s and 1990s, with styles meant to reflect the popular music trends of the time. (Actually, they're about five years behind the times.)

They sail under different names (Music Issue, Journeysongs, Heritage Hymnal, Glory & Praise), but the content is similar in all of them: an eclectic, hit-and-miss bag with an emphasis on new popular styles massaged for liturgical use. (Worst choice: Spirit & Song, which "encourages the youth and young adults of today to praise God in their own style.")

Some of the newer songs sound like variations on the musical themes you hear at the beginning of TV sitcoms. Some sound like Broadway-style love songs. Others have a vague Hawaiian, calypso, or blues feel. You never know what's going to pop up next.

Not all of it is terrible. In fact, there are real toe-tappers among the songs. The question to ask, however, is whether it's right for liturgy. The answer from the Church has been the same from the second century to the present day: The Mass requires special music, which is different from secular music and popular religious music. It must have its own unique voice-one that works, like the liturgy itself, to bring together time and eternity. It's a style perfectly embodied in chant, polyphony, and traditional hymnody.

The OCP revels in its ability to conflate these categories; indeed, that's the sum total of its purpose and effect. And judging from its newest new line of songs and CDs-"we just couldn't wait until our next General Catalog to tell you about it"-your parish can look forward to a variety of ska and reggae songs adapted for congregational purposes.

How It Hooks You

But let's go back to that innocent, floppy missalette. The OCP claims it has many advantages. Missalettes "make it easy for you to introduce the latest music to your parish, and changes in Church rituals are easy to implement." Thus the missalette is "always up-to-date."

It's also quite a bargain. If you buy more than 50 subscriptions to the quarterly missalette, you receive other goodies bundled inside. You'll get a Music Issue (the main OCP hymnal) to supplement the thin selection in the missalette. In addition, you'll receive a keyboard accompaniment book, a guitar book, the Choral Praise Comprehensive, a handy service binder, two annual copies of Respond & Acclaim for the psalm and the gospel acclamation, biannual copies of Prayer of the Faithful, two subscriptions to Today's Liturgy (which tells liturgy teams what to sing and say, when and how), and one master index. And the more you buy, the more you get.

Why would you want all this stuff? Well, if you're in parish music, you'll quickly discover that the missalette has too few hymns to cover the whole season. The Music Issue seems like an economical purchase. But there's something odd about the OCP's most popular music book: There's no scriptural index. How do you know what hymns fit with what gospel reading?

No problem. Just buy a copy of Today's Liturgy, which spells it all out for you. If you want a broader selection of possible hymns, you can also order the OCP's LitPlan software or its monthly Choral Resources, which is visually more complicated than the Federal Register (but still contains no scriptural index).

If you follow the free liturgical planner closely, you'll notice you can purchase a variety of choral arrangements and special new music (copyright OCP) that match perfectly with the response, the hymnal, and the missalette (copyright OCP), which is itself integrated with the prayers of the faithful (copyright OCP) and the gospel (not yet OCP copyright). And so it goes, until you follow the complete OCP plan for each Mass, from the first "Good morning, Father!" to the last "Go in peace to love and serve others!" By making each element dependent on the next, the OCP has ensured a steady-if trapped-clientele.

Musical Gnosticism

But why should the liturgy team go along with this program? The average parish musical team is made up of nonprofessionals. Its poorly paid members are untrained in music history; they have no particular craving for chant or polyphony, which often seems quite remote to them. Most musicians in average Catholic parishes would have no idea how to plug into the rite an extended musical setting from, say, the high Renaissance, even if they had the desire to do so.

The OCP understands this point better than most publishers. In an interview, Michael Prendergast, editor of Today's Liturgy, pointed again and again to the limited resources of typical parishes. The OCP sees serving such needs as a core part of its publishing strategy; its materials keep reminding us that we don't need to know Church music to get involved.

Lack of familiarity with the Church's musical tradition would not be a grave problem if there were a staple of standard hymns and Mass settings to fall back on. But it has been at least 30 years since such a setting was available in most parishes. The average parish musician wants to use his talents to serve the parish in whatever way possible, but he's at a complete loss as to how to do it without outside guidance. The OCP fills that vacuum.

Under its tutelage, you can aspire to be a real liturgical expert, which means you have attended a few workshops run by OCP-connected guitarists and songwriters (who explain that your job as a musician is to whip people into a musical frenzy: loud microphones, drum tracks, over-the-top enthusiasm when announcing the latest hymn). These "experts" love the OCP's material because it allows them to keep up the pretense that they have some special knowledge about what hymns should be used for what occasions and how the Mass ought to proceed.

Real Catholic musicians who have worked with the OCP material tell horror stories of incredible liturgical malpractice. The music arrangements are often muddled and busy, making it all but impossible for regular parishioners to sing. This is especially true of arrangements for traditional songs, where popular chords give old hymns a gauzy cast that reminds you of the 1970s group Chicago.

The liturgical planning guides are a ghastly embarrassment. Two years ago, for example, the liturgical planner recommended "Seek Ye First" for the first Sunday in Lent ("Al-le-lu-, Al-le-lu-yah"). In numerous slots during the liturgy, OCP offers no alternative to debuting its new tunes. When traditional hymns are offered, they're often drawn from the Protestant tradition, or else the words are changed in odd ways (see, for example, its strange version of "Ubi Caritas"). The liturgical instructions are equally pathetic. On July 8 this year, the liturgical columnist passes on this profound summary of the gospel of the day: "Live and let live."

The Middle Way?

Nevertheless, the OCP seems to have solved a major liturgical rift affecting today's local churches. Just as every parish used to have a low-Mass crowd and a high-Mass crowd, there are now two factions in parishes:

One wants more "contemporary" music of the sort seen in Life-Teen Masses-loud, rhythmic, and rockish. Another wants traditional music and sensibly asks whatever happened to the hymns of the old days. These two groups are forever at loggerheads and have been so for decades. In fact, most pastors are so sick of the dispute that they'll do anything to avoid talking about music at Mass.

This is where OCP steps in and serves as the peacekeeping moderate. After all, it's an established music publisher, and thanks to the missalette, it doesn't appear (at first) to be particularly partisan. Its literature contains enough traditional material to allow the liturgical team to claim they're sensitive to the needs of both the contemporary and traditional factions. Indeed, the OCP eschews the most extreme forms of grunge-metal Life-Teen music (though its Spirit & Song comes close). At first sight, it does appear to take the middle ground between two extremes. In truth, however, it's only slightly behind the curve of the most radical liturgical innovators-as it's always behind the curve in the popular styles it tries to imitate.

What about the other option of splitting up the Masses according to style, so that those who like traditional music can have their own Mass and the people who compose for the OCP can have theirs? Prendergast rejects this. Whether the style is traditional, contemporary, folk, or even "rock," Prendergast says, "everyone in the parish has to be exposed to it." And what if a pastor just doesn't like rock and other contemporary styles? Prendergast says, "I would talk to the [chancery's] Office of Worship about him." I asked whether that means he would turn this poor priest in to the bishop. His response: "I would try to arrange for him to attend a workshop on liturgy."

With a great deal of knowledge, careful planning, and conscious intent, it is possible to manufacture decent liturgies even if the OCP music is all you have. You'll have to dig to find the good hymns (10 to 20 percent in the typical OCP publications), but it can be done. It's also true that not everyone involved with the OCP wants to destroy all that has gone before. There are probably many people on its middle-aged staff who from time to time cringe at the music, just as the people in the pews do. For his part, Prendergast is sure that he thinks with the mind of the Church, and there's no reason to doubt his sincerity.

In fact, there are periodic signs of hope. Regular readers of Today's Liturgy might have been astounded to see the recent one-page article buried in its pages that urged children be taught Latin hymns and chant. "The Second Vatican Council did not destroy the tradition of chant," said the writer, who was a student of the excellent English composer John Rutter. "We can still claim our chant heritage as part of the living Church's journey into the future." Indeed we can! But the news seems to be slow in getting around the OCP office. (The same issue contained a blast against a poor old lady who read a prayer book during Mass instead of singing goodness knows what.)

What's completely amazing about the entire OCP family is how lacking it is in self-awareness. The poor quality of contemporary Catholic music is a cultural cliché that turns up in late-night shows, Woody Allen movies, and Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion. It is legendary among real musicians. Ask an organist what he thinks about today's Catholic music, and you will receive a raised eyebrow or a knowing laugh.

What You Can Do Right Now

The truth is that no one is happy with the state of Catholic liturgical music-least of all musicians-and the OCP is a big part of the problem. So, what can you do? Step 1 is to get rid of the liturgical planning guides and use an old Scripture index to select good hymns that have stood the test of time (if you absolutely must continue to use the OCP's materials). Step 2 is to rein in the liturgical managers and explain to them that the Eucharist, and not music, is the reason people show up to Mass Sunday after Sunday. Step 3 is to get rid of the OCP hymnals and replace them with Adoremus or Collegeville or something from GIA (no, none of these is perfect, but they are all an oasis by comparison).

Finally, reconsider those innocuous little missalettes. These harmless-looking booklets may be the source of the
trouble. Parishes can unsubscribe-accept no OCP handouts or volume discounts. There are plenty of passable missalettes and hymnals out there, and all the choral music you'll ever need is now public domain and easily downloadable for free (

In his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy (Ignatius Press, 2000), Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger states clearly that popular music does not belong at Mass. Indeed, it's part of "a cult of the banal," and "rock" plainly stands "in opposition to Christian worship."

This is very strong language from the cardinal. And yet we know that many liturgy teams in American parishes will continue to do what they've been doing for decades-systematically reconstructing the liturgy to accommodate pop aesthetic sensibilities. The liturgy is treated not as something sublimely different but as a well-organized social hour revolving around religious themes.

It's up to you to decide the future course of your parish's liturgy: reverent worship or hootenanny. Despite what the OCP might tell you, you can't have both.

J.A. Tucker is the choral director of a schola cantorum and writes frequently for CRISIS.

So, it is obvious from the above well researched article by J.A. Tucker that it is in the best interest of business and profitability for a corporation such as OCP [not the evil entity in RoboCop, but with similar business practices, methinks] to constantly change elements of the Mass, and not have a set traditional repitoire of music in America's parishes. If this was to happen, there would be no need for their product. Since businesses are set in a supply and demand system, they must manufacture a demand for their product- hence the stable of composers who churn out score after score of contemporary, faith-based music that has no hold in tradition. In turn, parishes spend the money donated by the hard-working people of the parish to purchase the ever-evolving product line and place that money into the hands of the composers and corporate leaders.The same dynamic is true of the LifeTeen program. In order for the business to continue to make money, they must manufacture, through professional marketing practices, a demand for their product so that parishes will continue to use the funds donated by the faithful to purchase it.Coincidentally, many of the products that OCP offers work well within the context of the LifeTeen rite Mass.So, in the end, who is ultimately the leader of the prayer of the Mass in the parish- Christ, working through His priest in persona christi, or OCP, a business incorporated in the State of Oregon?

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Lie at the Liturgical Heart of LifeTeen

The arguments for including 'pop', 'rock', and contemporary christian genres of music in a Catholic Mass are that it is attractive to the youth, it brings in the unchurched and takes people out of being just 'one of the crowd' and makes them feel special as individuals.In a 2005 interview by Barbara J. Resch, a professor of music at Indiana University- Purdue University at Fort Wayne in Indiana (IPFW), she absolutely blows these ideas out of the water. The interview was in a Lutheran publication, but easily speaks to Catholics as well. In a nutshell, the results of her study involving 500 youth from diverse religous backgrounds who were asked to provide insight to approiateness of different styles of music for worship were somewhat surprising. She found that teens like to keep secular styles of music in the secular realm, that they see the first and foremost function of church music to be 'an expression of God's word', and that they were quite cognizant of being part of an intergenerational worshiping community- therefore not deeming it appropriate to be singled out.Here is the interview, as found on

Teenagers and Church Music
What Do They Really Think?

In 1995 Dr. Barbara Resch conducted a survey of nearly 500 teenagers from across the United States on the topic of the appropriateness of music for the church. The research and findings, which are summarized in this interview, formed the basis of Dr. Resch's doctoral dissertation at Indiana University.

The findings of this research certainly do not answer all of the questions related to the issue of church music. They do, however, provide valuable insights into how the young people in our churches think about these matters. These findings may also challenge us to rethink some of our assumptions about what our youth are looking for in worship.

Dr. Resch is currently professor of music education at Indiana-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, Ind. She is also director of the children's choir at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, and has directed the choir in two recordings of hymns and liturgies.

What motivated you to do this project?

Pastors, youth directors, parents, teachers, church musicians, and anyone else who works with and cares about teenagers have probably asked at some point: "How can we keep these kids interested and involved in the Church? Now that they're confirmed and off to high school, what can we do to keep them worshiping faithfully?" Often this discussion has led to an examination of the Divine Service and further questions: "Is it the music? Wouldn't they rather hear and sing their own music in church? Won't they be much more inclined to hear God's Word if it's accompanied by a musical style that they like?"

What was involved in your research?

479 teenagers from Massachusetts to California were asked for their input on this topic. The students were asked to imagine themselves in a worship service and to determine if each of the 40 taped musical excerpts they were hearing sounded "appropriate for church" as they knew it. Since 34 different religious bodies were represented, including Roman Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, mainline Protestant, non-denominational and Pentecostal churches, world religions, and cultic groups, the students' experiences with church services were diverse.

As you prepared your survey, what results did you expect?

First, I expected that the music deemed appropriate would, like their church affiliations, be diverse. Second, knowing that the vast majority of teenagers enjoy listening to rock and pop music, I also expected that those styles would be identified as appropriate for church by their standards.

What did you learn?

Surprisingly, neither of my predictions proved true. Across this diverse group of students there was clear agreement about the kind of music that was "right for church": it was
choral music, not instrumental;
sung by a group of singers rather than a soloist;
characterized by a simple musical texture and understandable text.

Musical examples reminiscent of popular styles (rock, jazz, country) were overwhelmingly rejected as church music. Of the 40 examples, the one rated most appropriate was that of a male choir singing a four-part version of Psalm 98 (TLH 667). The piece considered least appropriate was the loud and rhythmic "Midnight Oil," performed by the Christian rock group Petra.

Were there any common factors that influenced the responses?

Church background was an important predictor of the kind of music considered appropriate. The frequency with which a given style was heard also tended to be related.

For example, some settings of traditional choral music were considered appropriate by nearly everyone. Conversely, the examples of Christian rock and jazz were considered inappropriate by the great majority. But it was also clear that students from nondenominational churches who heard contemporary Christian music in their churches considered that music more appropriate. Likewise, gospel choir music and popular styles were considered more fitting by students who attended Pentecostal churches. The traditional choral sound was given its highest ratings by the Catholic and Lutheran students in the study.

What does that information tell you?

What is says is that the kind of music that is heard in a church service seems to become the accepted norm for that context. Contrary to expectations, these representative teenagers do not bring to the church service their own musical preferences (e.g., rock and pop music) as the right music for that occasion. Rather, they tend to accept as appropriate for that context the music that the church has already put in place, whatever that music may be. While they liked rock music and thought it was the right music for some times and places in their lives, they didn't believe that the church service was that time and place.

Several students wrote comments on their survey sheets indicating when and where each excerpt would be appropriate. Although all of the examples played were representative of the range of music heard in American churches today, the contexts with which the students associated various pieces were Sunday brunch, a movie soundtrack, "church services of the 40s," a campground, and an opera. They apparently had clear opinions regarding the fittingness of musical styles for particular occasions, including that of the church service.

Not all of the students who took the survey were churchgoers. How did they respond?

Nearly 12% of the respondents did not belong to or attend church. As might be expected, their responses were very diverse. One surprise was that their responses were not significantly different from the church members in their disapproval of rock music for church. Interestingly, the unchurched students gave their lowest ranking of appropriateness to contemporary Christian music. Several wrote on their survey forms: "This sounds like my parents' music!"

Any idea what was behind their responses?

Sociologists suggest that teenagers' judgments may be formed by any one of a number of influential groups in different contexts:
their peer group,
a team or organization to which they belong
their families,
their churches.

The opinions of the church-going students were clearly influenced by their church settings. Lacking that context in which to form opinions, the unchurched teenagers were apparently influenced by the standards of popular culture, which would judge the sound of most contemporary Christian music to be neither contemporary nor popular. For adolescents who keep current with popular music trends, much contemporary Christian music has a dated sound with a greater appeal to the "fortysomething" generation. While teenagers who have come to know this music as part of the ethos of their church may consider it appropriate, unchurched adolescents may reject it.

Did your research reveal teenagers' attitudes concerning the role of music in worship?

Yes. The study revealed connections between the teens' ideas of the role music takes in the service and the kind of music considered suitable to fill that role. They had been asked on the survey how they thought music functioned in the church service, and they ranked the stated possibilities in this order, from most to least important:
Church music is an expression of religious belief.
Church music is part of the presentation of God's Word.
Church music is a way for people to use their talents to serve God.
Church music establishes or changes people's moods.
Church music is a performance that entertains.

My analysis showed a strong connection between the students' perceptions of the way music functions in the service and the kind of music they thought was appropriate for the service. Students who saw music as part of the presentation of God's Word considered traditional choral music most appropriate for the service. Those who thought that music functioned to "establish or change people's moods" indicated that contemporary Christian music, a more mellow and easy-listening style, was appropriate. The small percentage who said that music in church was an entertaining performance also gave higher ratings to rock music and soloistic pop styles. And the only segment of the respondents who considered instrumental music appropriate were those who thought that church music functioned as "a way for people to use their talents to serve God."

This concern about music's function really lay at the heart of the study, since the main question "Is this appropriate church music?" addressed the way teenagers heard the music as fitting into a particular context. As they took the survey, they were reminded frequently that they were indicating not how much they liked the music but rather how fitting they felt it was for a specific time and place. As they visualized themselves in a church setting, it's likely that they had an idea of how music should function in that setting, and that their judgments were based on how well the excerpt fulfilled that function. It's interesting that a great many of these teenagers took Luther's well-known position that music is the servant of the Word.

Did your research yield any other "surprises"?

The students who participated in the survey lent some amazing insight into their view of the Church gathered for worship. Many expressed a respect for the corporate nature of their worshiping congregations. One said she made her decisions based on how the "little old ladies" in her church would react: "If I thought they would be upset, I said it was not appropriate, because people shouldn't get upset by music in church." Another wrote: "This would give my Grandma cardiac arrest, so better not!" One boy had asked at the outset "Do you mean appropriate for me or for the whole congregation?" Who knows how he might have responded if he were a congregation of one, but he realized that he was not, and that appropriate church music is not an age-specific style.

What final insights from your research would you like to share with worship planners?

One insight is the strong influence that established church music practice has on teenagers' opinions about what that music should be. They were accepting of the music they heard in church and did not bring their own personal preference to that place. In fact, they expressed a possessiveness about "their own" rock and popular music styles, and a desire to keep that music in the realm of recreational listening. Attempts by adults to present an appealing contemporary popular sound were apparently unsuccessful in winning over unchurched students, who measured that sound against cutting-edge pop music and found it lacking.

Another insight is that the teenagers expressed a surprising sense of the corporate nature of worship, embracing a sensitivity to the intergenerational oneness of the worshiping community.

Finally, it's possible that pastors, youth directors, and musicians have been making decisions based on some false assumptions about teens and church music. It may be appropriate to learn from these young people and ask the same foundational questions: What is Lutheran worship? What is the role of music within Lutheran worship? What, therefore, is appropriate music for the church service?

So, clearly, the underlying assumptions about what attracts youth to Mass is wrong, simply because no one bothered to ask. It seems that Pope Benedict XVI, as always, is correct in his calls for liturgical music as a genre to be respected and seperate from other types of music. [See earlier entries]

Labels: lifeteen, music, pop, rock, traditional

Sunday, October 15, 2006

LifeTeen and Liberation Theology

If one reads the links in the last post, especially one can easily see that the entire LifeTeen concept succumbs completely to the underlying thought currents of liberation theology and is set up in such a way that it puts the youth it purports to help in danger (see "A Look at LifeTeen" entry in this blog).To begin with the Mass at a LifeTeen parish, the entire focus is on the teenagers, or 'teens' in LifeTeen speak. The 'teens' are invited to come around the altar; the 'teens' are the ones rock and pop-style music is chosen for at the Mass; the 'teens' are the ones that the 'Life Night previews' are for at the end of the Mass. When the focus is on the community, or even worse a subset of the community, the Sacraments become secondary to the community experience. This is 100% against the Magisterium teaching on this issue. Pope Benedict XVI in his book God and the World, while commenting on a quote of Justin Martyr which outlines the ancient rite of the Mass in the 2nd century [which is amazingly similar to the rite of the Mass as it is in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal {GIRM}] states,

"This basic foundation for the Mass, being gathered together under the Word that renews us, teaches us, and enlightens us, is followed by the actual service of the Eucharist itself. This in turn is made up of 3 parts. First of all the gifts are provided, bread and wine. This is an image of our bringing to the Lord the whole of creation. Then follows the prayer of thanksgiving. That is to say, the bishop or the priest joins in the prayer of thanksgiving offered by Jesus on the evening before he died. This is the great act of praise of God. It includes both our thanksgiving for Christ and our rememberance of his words and actions in the last hours of his life- and thus also the transubstiantion of the bread and wine, which are now no longer our gifts, but the gifts of Jesus Christ, in which he gives himself, in accordance with his words at the Last Supper."

When Benedict XVI speaks of rememberance, he is using the word in a theological context. Rememberance within the context of Catholic theology means not a merely mental act, but an actual entering in to the activity being portrayred. In other words, at the Catholic Mass, we do not merely re-create something that happened 20 centuries ago--- we transcend time and place and return to 1st century palastine to share in the salvific action of Christ- from Last Supper to Resurrection!Looked at in this light, not only is the reality absolutely mind-blowing, but it calls for an absolute adherence to the instructions for it given by the Holy Spirit led Magisterium of the Church. In addition, it makes infinately more scandalous the idea that someone would convolute the Mass in such a way that it would even give a hint of impropriety. Hence, LifeTeen, as I said before, is inherently dangerous!Keep checking as the truth continues to unfold!
Posted by xradioguy at 7:31 PM 0 comments

Friday, October 13, 2006

What about CRHP?

CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish), is a supposed parish renewal program that is supposed to come in to a parish, run a few cycles, get people energized and more involved in parish life, and then move on. On the surface, this sounds like a good deal. In looking online, one is VERY hard-pressed to find anything negative about it.
The Truth About CRHP
As a program, CRHP began in the late 1960s in a parish in surburban Cleveland, OH. The priest who founded it subsequently left the priesthood. However, the CRHP retreat (and resultant Small Christian Communities that spring forth from a 'successful' CRHP program) has as it's origin the idea of base communities taken from A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics Salvation by Gustavo Gutierrez, which he wrote following the 1968 Medellin Conference in Columbia. These base communities were first placed in widespread practice by the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. (To referesh the memory of the reader, the Sandinistas were the Nicaraguan communists. They fought the Contras [who were supported by the USA and funded by the Iranian Arms deals.]) As the Sandiistas were Marxist-Leninist, they needed a way to make this type of communism palatable to the 90+% of the Nicaraguan population that was Roman Catholic. Reproduced below is a germane section of Fr. Malachai Martin's book The Jesuits:
From ....... THE JESUITS -The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic ChurchBy Malachi Martin
["Father" Martin, a prolific RC author, was a long time Jesuit and remains a Roman Catholic in good standing ...... JP ]
Published by Simon & Schuster, NY. .......... ISBN: 0-671-54505-1page 56-62 .................. .............


...... by the early seventies, at least seven years before their grab for power, the Sandinista leaders openly proclaimed their ultimate aim: to create a Marxist society in Nicaragua to serve as the womb from which Marxist revolution throughout Central America would be born. "Revolution throughout the Americas" was the slogan.

From their beginnings as a group, when they were nothing more than rag-tag guerrillas, bank robbers, and hit-and-run terrorists, the Sandinistas understood full well that they had no hope of installing a Marxist regime in 91.6 percent Roman Catholic Nicaragua unless they could enlist - in effect, inhale - the active cooperation of the Catholic clergy, together with suitably altered [Roman Catholic] Church doctrine and [Roman Catholic] Church structure.

Mere passive connivance on the part of the clergy would not be enough. If the Sandinistas wanted the very soul of the people, they knew the road: [Roman] Catholicism was inextricably bound up in the warp and woof of Nicaraguan culture, language, way of thinking, and outlook, and was integral to all the hope of the people.

Here, Fernando Cardenal, as [Roman Catholic] priest and Jesuit, was a towering influence.

For some time, certain [Roman] Catholic theologians in Latin America - principally Jesuits of the post-World War II period - had been developing a new theology. They called it the Theology of Liberation, and based it on the theories of their European counterparts.

It was an elaborate and carefully worked out system, but its core principle is very simple: The whole and only meaning of Christianity as a religion comes down to one achievement - the liberation of men and women, by armed and violent revolution if necessary, from the economic, social, and political slavery imposed on them by U.S. capitalism; this is to be followed by the establishment of "democratic socialism."

In this "theological" system, the so-called "option" for the economically poor and the politically oppressed, originally described as a "preferential" option by Catholic bishops in Latin America at their conference in Medellin, Colombia, in 1968, became totally exclusive: There was one enemy - capitalist classes, middle and upper and lower, chiefly located in the United States. Only the "proletariat" - the "people" - was to be fomented by the imposition of Marxism.

Liberation Theology was the perfect blueprint for the Sandinistas.

It incorporated the very aim of Marxist-Leninism. It presumed the classic Marxist "struggle of the masses" to be free from all capitalist domination. And above all, the Marxist baby was at last wrapped in the very swaddling clothes of ancient Catholic terminology. Words and phrases laden with meaning for the people were co-opted and turned upside down.

The historical Jesus, for example, became an armed revolutionary. The mystical Christ became all the oppressed people, collectively. Mary the Virgin became the mother of all revolutionary heroes. The Eucharist became the bread freely made by liberated workers. Hell became the capitalist system. The American president, leader of the greatest capitalist country, became the Great Satan. Heaven became the earthly paradise of the workers from which capitalism is abolished. Justice became the uprooting of capitalist gains, which would be "returned" to the people, to the "mystical body" of Christ, the democratic socialists of Nicaragua. The Church became that mystical body, "the people," deciding its fate and determining how to worship, pray, and live, under the guidance of Marxist leaders.

It was a brilliant synthesis, ready-made and just waiting for the activists who would set about erecting a new sociopolitical structure on its basis, as a building rises from a blueprint.

The Nicaraguan people were the first guinea pigs on whom the theory was experimentally tried. And the priests who were charter members in the Sandinista leadership - Jesuit Fernando Cardenal Ernesto Cardenal, Miguel D'Escoto Brockman of the Maryknoll Fathers, Jesuit Alvaro Arguello, Edgar Parrales of the Managua diocese - made the experiment doubly blessed and likely to succeed.

If such men, duly ordained as priests, could successfully get this new "theological" message across - that the Sandinista revolution was really a religious matter sanctioned by legitimate Church spokesmen - they would have both the [Roman] Catholic clergy and the people as allies in a Marxist-style revolution by armed violence.

[no R. C. was ever excommunicated for engaging in violent revolution ..... JP ]

Without a doubt, the plan had been carefully thought out and elaborated, based on a profound analysis of the Nicaraguan people and of its clergy.

No doubt, too, the first connivers in the scheme were the priests themselves; there are even those in Managua today and among prominent Nicaraguan exiles in Panama, Honduras, and Miami, Florida,who point the finger at Fernando Cardenal as the prime architect of the scheme. But what evidence there is does suggest that he was not the only Jesuit involved.

In any case, the Sandinista undertaking was ever more brilliantly explained, refined, and dinned into the ears of seminarians, nuns, university students, and the popular mind by increasing numbers of their Jesuit, Franciscan, and Maryknoll teachers and lecturers throughout the schools of Central America. The seeding time was well spent in the view of ultimate Marxisation. The pathetic court testimony of the young Nicaraguan Edgard Lang Sacasa told the world as far back as 1977 that it had been his priest educators who had persuaded him and thousands like him to join the Sandinista guerrillas.

Hand in hand with this new Theology of Liberation went, of necessity, the establishment of a new and "pliant" Church structure to replace the old one.

In the traditional Roman Catholic structure, knowledge about God, Christ, Christian salvation, personal morality, and human destiny derived from the hierarchic pastors of the Church - namely, the Pope and his bishops.

They were the only authentic source of knowledge about the faith; apart from them, there was no accurate knowing possible about Christianity. Submission to them and acceptance of their teaching and laws were necessary for salvation.

It was precisely this structure, in which ultimate control is Rome's, that stood between the Sandinistas and the people. And it was precisely this structure that the earlier, European-based architect-theologians of Liberation Theology had criticized. This structure was, Liberation Theologians said, dictated by "a view from above" and "imposed from above" on the people "below."

Franciscan Liberation Theologian Leonardo Boff, teaching in a Brazilian seminary, put it in terms Fernando Cardenal and his clerical colleagues could champion: "There has been a historical process of expropriation of the means of production on the part of the clergy to the detriment of the Christian People." Boff was not talking about industry or commerce, but about theology and religious doctrine; the means of production - the "plant," as he called it - was the preaching of the Gospel.

According to the new theologians, "Roman" and therefore "alien" imposition of religious doctrine was the very reason social injustice and political oppression flourished in lands where this hierarchic [Roman Catholic] Church flourished. In lands such as Latin American countries. In countries such as Nicaragua. On top of that, the argument went on, Christianity and specifically [Roman] Catholicism was not merely alien in and of itself, but had always accompanied actual invasion by alien European cultures. "Alien" - that was the key word.

To counter that alien, imposed structure, the new theologians looked "from below." From the level of the people. From the perspective of oppression and injustice - because that, they said, was all they found "below" among the people. The task, in other words, was to impose the "preferential option" on all the people, rich and poor alike. Immediately, as Fernando Cardenal and the other Sandinista priests quickly realized, a new concept of "Church" was born.

The ordinary body of believers, by revised definition, would become the very source of revelation. The faith of believers would "create" communities among those believers. Base Communities, they are called in Nicaragua and elsewhere in Latin America - "comunidades de base" . And those Communities taken together would form the new "Church," the "People's Church."

These Communities began to form years before the Nicaraguan revolution stormed onto the stage of geopolitics in 1979. Groupings of laymen and laywomen would gather regularly to pray, to read the Bible, to sing hymns, to discuss their local concrete problems in economics and politics; to choose not only their political leaders but their priests as well; and to determine not only the solutions to their secular problems, but how best to worship and what to believe.

It was a dream come true. A dream put into clear words by the same Father Boff: "The sacred power must be put back in the hands of the people." No teaching or directing authority would be allowed "from above," from the alien, hierarchic [Roman Catholic] Church. In fact, the very symbols of that Church must be firmly rejected.

Symbols and all else must only come "from below." From the people. From their Base Communities - nearly 1000 of them in Nicaragua alone, in time; and nearly 300,000 in Latin America at large. The idea of Base Communities spread to the United States, where they are sometimes called "Gatherings."

Fernando Cardenal, Ernesto Cardenal, Miguel D'Escoto Brockman, Edgar Parrales, and Alvaro Arguello were the showcase priests of the Sandinistas, the intended and willing legitimizers of this new "People's Church" that would appropriate...

What Does This Mean for the Average Parish?

First and foremost, any parish that has CRHP, and or Small Christian Communities (or SCCs) needs to SERIOUSLY look at the program. The program, and I have confirmed this with a professional counselor who actually went on a CRHP retreat, is based on emotional manipulation. This is the same emotional manipulation that caused the Sandinistas to go to war with the Contras. This is the same manipulation that caused the Sandinistas, along with allied groups in El Salvador, to fire on US troops in Honduras in 1993, taking lives in the bargain (I know, I was there. Before I entered the seminary, I spent 10 years in the Army Reserves. I was in a unit that was deployed to Honduras in 1993, and we went on nightly patrols in the jungle where we would be randomly shot upon by members of these Nicarguan and El Salvadoran groups, that were called 'base communities,' the paradigm of the Small Christian Communities so prevalent in US parishes today.)
LifeTeen, by it's design, is an offshoot of the CRHP program that is designed for teenagers. (See last entry.) The same type of emotional manipulation is involved in LifeTeen that is involved in CRHP, but in LifeTeen it is conviently arranged so that as it's end there is a grooming of victims for pedophile/ ephebophile predators.
All of these programs which stem from Liberation Theology are inherently flawed. Keep checking back for more connections.
For Pope Benedict XVI's view on Liberation Theology, check out:

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Look at LifeTeen


“You have already been told about the wicked things shepherds desire. Let us now consider what they neglect. You have failed to strengthen what was weak, to heal what was sick, and to bind up what was injured, that is what was broken. You did not call back the straying sheep, nor seek out the lost. What was strong, you have destroyed… But what sort of shepherds are they who for fear of giving offense not only fail to prepare the sheep for the temptations that threaten, but even promise them worldly happiness? God Himself made no such promise to this world. On the contrary, God foretold hardship upon hardship in this world until the end of time…”“I shall recall the straying; I shall seek the lost. Whether they wish it or not, I shall do it. And should the brambles of the forest tear at me when I seek them, I shall force myself through all straits; I shall put down all hedges… Should I neglect the straying and the lost, the strong one will also take delight in straying and being lost.” ~ On Pastors, St. Augustine

"I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy, which at times has even come to be conceived of etsi Deus non daretur: in that it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not He speaks to us and hears us. But when the community of faith, the worldwide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the Liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence? Then the community is only celebrating itself, an activity that is utterly fruitless. And, because the ecclesial community cannot have its origin from itself but emerges as a unity only from the Lord, through faith, such circumstances will inexorably result in a disintegration into sectarian parties of all kinds- partisan opposition within a Church tearing herself apart. This is why we need a new Liturgical movement, which will call to life the real heritage of the Second Vatican Council.” ~Ratzinger, Joseph, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977 (SF, CA: Ignatius) p. 149

“Of course, external actions- reading, singing, the bringing up of the gifts- can be distributed in a sensible way. By the same token, participation in the liturgy of the Word (reading, singing) is to be distinguished from the sacramental celebration proper. We should be clearly aware that external actions are quite secondary here. Doing really must stop when we come to the heart of the matter: the oratio. It must be plainly evident that the oratio is the heart of the matter, but that is important precisely because it provides a space for the actio of God. Anyone who grasps this will easily see that it is not now a matter of looking at or toward the priest, but of looking together toward the Lord and going out to meet him. The almost theatrical entrance of different players into the liturgy, which is so common today, especially during the preparation of the gifts, quite simply misses the point. If the various external actions (as a matter of fact, there are not very many of them, though they are being artificially multiplied) become essential in the liturgy, if the liturgy disintegrates into general activity, then we have radically misunderstood the “theo-drama” of the liturgy and lapsed almost into parody. True liturgical education cannot consist in learning and experimenting in external activities. Instead one must be led toward the essential actio that makes the liturgy what it is, toward the transforming power of God, who wants, through what happens in the liturgy, to transform us and the world. In this respect, liturgical education today, of both priests and laity, is deficient to a deplorable extent. Much remains to be done here”~ Ratzinger, Joseph, The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 170


As I had assumed that, eventually, my role in LifeTeen at St. X Parish in X would increase, I began to search online for information about the program. As I entered “Lifeteen” into the Google search engine, located at , immediately after the entries for on September 20, 2006 an entry came up stating “LifeTeen founder arrested.” This caused me to investigate further the LifeTeen program, the founder(s) and the legal issues involved with it.


LifeTeen was founded in 1985 by Msgr. Dale Fushek, a priest of the Diocese of Phoenix, AZ while serving at St. Timothy Parish in Mesa, AZ. It was incorporated as a private company with the Arizona Corporation Commission on May 26, 1987. Due to this, LifeTeen, Inc. is not under the legal jurisdiction of any Bishop. Msgr. Fushek was named Vicar General of the Phoenix diocese under Bishop Thomas O’Brien. On 29 December 2004, he was removed from this position and was placed on administrative leave by the diocese for investigation into inappropriate behavior with minors. On 30 June 2005 Msgr. Fushek resigned from the office of Pastor at St. Timothy Parish in Mesa, AZ.In addition to both Msgr. Fushek and his top lay assistant being under investigation and incarceration, the LifeTeen program itself is under investigation by Maricopa County and the State of Arizona.


In the Phoenix New Times investigative article Cross to Bare,
Robert Nelson takes a look at three of Msgr. Fushek’s victims. Msgr. Fushek’s activities were apparently a badly kept secret in the Phoenix presbyterate since some of his “Fellow priests used to joke that Fushek created LifeTeen to ‘get teens.’” Indeed, the joke has its base in reality as the enclosed evidence will show.Firstly, we must ask, what exactly is LifeTeen, Inc.? An internet inquiry to the Arizona Corporations Commission yielded a report, ,that gives a summary history of LifeTeen, Inc. since its incorporation date on May 26, 1987. Accessible from this web page are the annual reports for the last 10 years. A study of the corporation documents reveals a few facts:

  • LifeTeen, Inc. is not legally answerable to any ecclesiastical authority
  • LifeTeen, Inc. is a private Arizona Corporation with a value of $8.25 Million (2005)
  • The largest expense for LifeTeen, Inc. in 2005 was for travel
  • The property and equipment assets of LifeTeen, Inc. are valued at $6.25 Million. These assets can be liquidated if need be
  • LifeTeen, Inc. moved their corporate office in 2005 from the address of St. Timothy parish in Mesa, AZ to the Address of the Duvall Law Office in Mesa, AZ

Now that it can be seen that the LifeTeen corporation was set up to be separate from the local church of the Diocese of Phoenix, we can also see that by placing LifeTeen, Inc. assets into durable items 2 things can occur:· These items may be liquidated for cash if needed· If depreciation is taken on these on a yearly basis, this money can be bankedIn doing this, LifeTeen, Inc. could be said to have been set up as a hedge against loss on the part of the founder.

What about the founder, Msgr. Dale Fushek?

Msgr. Fushek, 20-year pastor of St. Timothy parish [] and former vicar general of the Phoenix Diocese, has had printed allegations against him since 2002. In an Arizona Republic article called Priests split on handling abuse, , Joseph A. Reaves looks at the results of an Arizona Republic survey of priests of the Phoenix Diocese. A quote in there is quite telling, “Two priests used the survey to vent frustrations with Monsignor Dale J. Fushek, vicar general of the Phoenix Diocese and co-founder of LifeTeen, the nation’s largest Catholic youth organization. Fushek acknowledged this year that he settled a sexual-harassment suit with a male LifeTeen employee out of court for $45,000. ‘Msgr. Dale Fushek should be removed,’ one priest wrote. Another wrote: ‘Msgr. Dale Fushek from St. Timothy’s should resign.’ Neither cited any reason for the sentiment or even why they brought up the issue. Nothing in the survey alluded to Fushek, LifeTeen, or his parish, St. Timothy’s in Mesa.” So we see that Msgr. Fushek has a history of homosexual behavior before he was arrested in late 2005 on “10 misdemeanor counts with boys and young men.” (Phoenix New Times, LifeTeen Founder Busted, 2005-12-01) [

Looking back at the article Cross to Bare, we see in the following quote that Msgr. Fushek also had a history of helping and being helped by those who had pedophile, ephebophile, and homosexual tendencies as well: And to imply there were never sexual indiscretions surrounding Fushek and his program is a profound case of mincing words.For one, Fushek has worked with, lived with and mentored a who's-who of priests accused or convicted of preying on children.Besides Mark Lehman, who spent 10 years in prison for molesting children, there was Father Patrick Colleary, who is awaiting extradition from Ireland on two counts of felony sexual conduct with a minor, and Joseph Lessard, who served three years' probation for a 1985 molestation conviction. All lived with and worked closely with Fushek at either St. Tim's or at his earlier post at St. Jerome's in Phoenix.In 2002, a Life Teen volunteer and former Life Teen employee at St. Tim's, Mark Gherna, was sentenced to a year in prison on three counts of sexual misconduct with a minor.A fellow priest, who soon will be meeting with county attorney's investigators, claims he walked in on Fushek with his hands down a boy's pants at St. Tim's in the mid-1980s. The priest also says he reported the incident to then-bishop O'Brien, a close friend of Fushek's, who responded by chastising the priest for bringing the accusation…Mostly, he variably is accused of watching, groping, running around naked, suggesting others do the same, and obsessing over young men's underwear and masturbatory practices.What is highly inappropriate behavior, especially by a spiritual leader in charge of young people, is not always illegal behavior.According to his alleged victims, Dale Fushek seemed much more aware of the lines between legal and illegal than the lines between appropriate and inappropriate, helpful and devastating.So, clearly, Msgr. Fushek has a long history of deviant behavior. However, does this translate into a problem with the LifeTeen program itself? Any predator will take steps to normalize abhorrent behavior.

For Msgr. Fushek, the LifeTeen program was his attempt at this. Indeed, he went so far as to team up with Praesidium, Inc., a company that has “developed the first scientifically-based model of abuse risk management,” (see enclosed web site printout from to delineate the exact lines one could not cross in handling children before legal bounds were crossed. Indeed, the ‘Ideas for c2 outreach activities’ section of the LifeTeen core manual are one part of the core manual that is being investigated by Maricopa County and the State of Arizona, as well as the Diocese of Phoenix, as a possible pedophile grooming system. In the article LifeTeen founder busted, it states:In a January discussion with New Times, Paul Pfaffenberger, leader of the Arizona chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, summed up the coming story and criminal complaints."We're beginning to hear this same story again and again," Pfaffenberger said. "That there was unwanted sexual contact by Dale Fushek, and that it came about through this very manipulative grooming process associated with Life Teen. There is definitely a pattern of behavior beginning to form."Indeed, if we look even only at the Ideas for C2 Outreach Activities, it reads like a system for ‘grooming’ victims. If one merely looks anecdotally at the systems that the convicted pedophile priests in Boston used (see ( they follow a pattern of:·

  • Finding the vulnerable·
  • Changing the view of normal·
  • Breaking down barriers·
  • Gaining Trust with victim and family·
  • Personal connectivity·
  • Slowly pushing the envelope·
  • Abusive action

Reading pages 70-72 of the LifeTeen Core Manual, it gives hints and recommendations for everything up to the abusive action itself, and even alerts the individual to how far one can go without violating the law and diocese guidelines. These same processes can be found in other parts of the LifeTeen Core Manual as well, but they are slightly more disguised. Note also that the LifeTeen CORE manual is written for adults and is a guide for how they should interact with the teenagers within the context of the [all-encompassing] program.
[P. 70- Ideas if you have 10 extra minutes during the day:
  • Spend time in prayer for a specific teen
    Write a card for a teen.
  • Send it in the mail during the week
  • Find a bible verse that applies to a teen’s current situation and share it with them
  • Record and remember teen’s birthdays.
  • Get in touch with them on that day and let them know that they are in your prayers for a joyful upcoming year
  • At a LIFE night choose a new teen to reach out to.
  • Contact them during the following week regarding something they said or did during the night…
  • Call the parents of a teen and let them know how much you appreciate their teen’s involvement
  • Email a group of teens to let them know about an upcoming Bible study or LIFE event
  • Bring give-aways to hand out when you go to a place where teens are- LIFETEEN key chains, shirts, hats, passes to an upcoming LIFETEEN event, pens, etc
  • If you see a teen’s parents out in public, affirm them, their involvement, and parenting practices, if appropriate. Let them know how great you think their teen is.]

[P. 71- C2 Activities for a weekday or Saturday afternoon

  • Call up a few teens to play basketball or another sport
  • Meet teens at a movie
  • Visit the local high schools during lunch time
  • Have a group of teens over for baking Christmas cookies
  • Give out treats to parish staff or others who would appreciate them.
  • When invited, make a strong effort to attend birthday parties and significant or important events.

These efforts can make a very strong, positive impression on a teen. Involve teens in the making of a video for a LIFE night. This spontaneous and fun activity encourages teens to open up and talk as you give them the chance. Invite them to the night to see themselves in the video.]

[P. 72 C2 activities that can be scheduled in advance:

  • Ask teens to play sports, hang out, or serve the poor, giving a specific day and time.
  • Participate in weekly activities at the Youth Center or Life House
  • As a CORE member, participate in parish-sponsored events with teens. Solid relationships can be built from outreach like this.
  • Sponsor a variety of events at the church to draw different teens in- cookouts, softball, volleyball, concerts, coffeehouses, etc
  • Start a small support/accountability group with teens with whom you can relate well. This builds closer community while developing deeper faith.
  • Volunteer at a local shelter, food kitchen or hospital]

Indeed, the liturgical theory behind the LifeTeen Mass is such that it successfully breaks the common notion of a Roman Catholic Liturgy with regard to music, activity and focus and makes the vulnerable teenagers open to the emotional manipulation of the program. An unscrupulous individual could too easily take advantage of this. The Mass itself calls for the inclusion of ‘popular’, ‘rock’, and other contemporary music styles in the liturgy. In addition, the liturgical norms for LifeTeen Masses call for the teenagers to be singled out, come forward around the sanctuary for the consecration, and become the center of attention of the Mass- placing the Eucharist in a secondary position. Finally, at the end of the Mass, where the General Instruction of the Roman Missal calls for ‘brief announcements’ the [most of the time] theatrical preview of the upcoming LIFE night is performed, making the conclusion of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass akin to banter with Jay Leno on the Tonight Show.

Pope Benedict XVI states the following about liturgy and music: "Development in Sacred Music"An authentic updating of sacred music can take place only in the lineage of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony." [Speaking in the Sistine Chapel following a tribute concert to Dominico Bartolucci, June 24, 2006.]

Musical Culture Today

"After the cultural revolution of recent decades, we are faced with a challenge no less great than that of the three moments of crisis that we have encountered in our his­torical sketch: the Gnostic temptation, the crisis at the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of modernity, and the crisis at the beginning of the twentieth century, which formed the prelude to the still more radical ques­tions of the present day. Three developments in recent music epitomize the problems that the Church has to face when she is considering liturgical music. First of all, there is the cultural universalization that the Church has to undertake if she wants to get beyond the boundaries of the European mind. This is the question of what in­culturation should look like in the realm of sacred music if, on the one hand, the identity of Christianity is to be preserved and, on the other, its universality is to be ex­pressed in local forms. Then there are two developments in music itself that have their origins primarily in the West but that for a long time have affected the whole of mankind in the world culture that is being formed. Modern so-called “classical” music has maneuvered itself, with some exceptions, into an elitist ghetto, which only specialists may enter—and even they do so with what may sometimes be mixed feelings. The music of the masses has broken loose from this and treads a very different path." [The Spirit of the Liturgy [SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000) p. 148]

Popular and Rock Music

"On the one hand, there is pop music, which is certainly no longer supported by the people in the ancient sense (populus). It is aimed at the phenomenon of the masses, is industrially produced, and ultimately has to be described as a cult of the banal. “Rock”, on the other hand, is the expression of elemental passions, and at rock festivals it assumes a cultic character, a form of worship, in fact, in opposition to Christian worship. People are, so to speak, released from themselves by the experience of being part of a crowd and by the emotional shock of rhythm, noise, and special lighting effects. However, in the ecstasy of having all their defenses torn down, the participants sink, as it were, beneath the elemental force of the universe. The music of the Holy Spirit’s sober ine­briation seems to have little chance when self has become a prison, the mind is a shackle, and breaking out from both appears as a true promise of redemption that can be tasted at least for a few moments. "[The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p 148]

Active Participation

"Wherever an exaggerated concept of "community" predominates, a concept which is (as we have already seen) completely unrealistic precisely in a highly mobile society such as ours, there only the priest and the congregation can be acknowledged as legitimate executors or performers of liturgical song. Today, practically everyone can see through the primitive activism and the insipid pedagogic rationalism of such a position which is why it is now asserted so seldom. The fact that the schola and the choir can also contribute to the whole picture, is scarcely denied any more, even among those who erroneously interpret the council's phrase about "active participation" as meaning external activism." ("In the Presence of the Angels..." Adoremus Bulletin, Vol. 2, Nos. 6-8, Oct-Dec. 1996)

On External Actions

"Of course, external actions—reading, singing, the bringing up of the gifts—can be distributed in a sensible way. By the same token, participation in the Liturgy of the Word (reading, singing) is to be distinguished from the sacramental celebration proper. We should be clearly aware that external actions are quite secondary here. Do­ing really must stop when we come to the heart of the matter: the oratio. It must be plainly evident that the oratio is the heart of the matter, but that it is important precisely because it provides a space for the actio of God. Anyone who grasps this will easily see that it is not now a mat­ter of looking at or toward the priest, but of looking to­gether toward the Lord and going out to meet him. The almost theatrical entrance of different players into the lit­urgy, which is so common today, especially during the Preparation of the Gifts, quite simply misses the point. If the various external actions (as a matter of fact, there are not very many of them, though they are being arti­ficially multiplied) become the essential in the liturgy, if the liturgy degenerates into general activity, then we have radically misunderstood the “theo-drama” of the liturgy and lapsed almost into parody. True liturgical education cannot consist in learning and experimenting with external activities. Instead one must be led toward the essential actio that makes the liturgy what it is, toward the transforming power of God, who wants, through what happens in the liturgy, to transform us and the world. In this respect, liturgical education today, of both priests and laity, is deficient to a deplorable extent. Much remains to be done here." [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 170]

Liturgical Disintegration

"I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy, which at times has even come to be conceived of etsi Deus non daretur: in that it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not He speaks to us and hears us. But when the community of faith, the world-wide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence? Then the community is celebrating only itself, an activity that is utterly fruitless. And, because the ecclesial community cannot have its origin from itself but emerges as a unity only from the Lord, through faith, such circumstances will inexorably result in a disintegration into sectarian parties of all kinds - partisan opposition within a Church tearing herself apart. This is why we need a new Liturgical Movement, which will call to life the real heritage of the Second Vatican Council." Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977 (SF, CA: Ignatius), p. 149.


My only motivation with regard to this report is to bring to light the danger inherent in the LifeTeen program which was designed by a convicted pedophile that shows indications of being a grooming system. This is dangerous precisely because it would allow anyone with tendencies in the areas of pedophilia, epheboplilia and homosexuality to easily step into the program, groom a victim or victims, even keep them in the system until they turn 18, and abuse them.My recommendation is to clear this program from all parishes and look for other, safer, more effective modes of youth ministry that do not involve the convoluting of the Liturgy or devotions.

Respectfully completed October 9, 2006