Matt C. Abbott
April 20, 2006
Catholics lash out at California bishop
By Matt C. Abbott

The following was provided to me by Mike Tripoli. It is an open letter addressed to Bishop Tod Brown of the Orange, Calif., diocese. (Note: Some links contained in the letter may not work unless they are copied and pasted into the URL of the Web browser.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Open Letter to Tod Brown, Bishop of Orange

Diocese of Orange
Attn: Bishop Tod D. Brown
2811 East Villa Real Drive
Orange, CA 92867

Bishop Brown,

It has been brought to our attention that you have expressed confusion and distress as to why many of the laity within your diocese should be unhappy with your leadership. As Catholics who respect the authority of Pope Benedict XVI, strive to be faithful to the Magisterium, and are informed about Church teaching, we care deeply about our diocese. This letter is intended to clarify the reasons for our extreme disappointment with your actions as our bishop.

First Impressions

Upon your arrival in the Diocese, you had an interview with the Orange County Register that appeared in their July 1, 1998 edition as a means of introducing yourself to your new flock. The article was titled, 'Middle of the road' bishop to lead O.C. Catholics RELIGION: Tod Brown is praised by his Idaho diocese, but his moderate views 'riled' some. In that interview, we were disappointed to see that you referred to yourself as a moderate. Was Christ a moderate, Bishop Brown? Did He introduce Himself to His disciples as "middle of the road"? We prayed that your moderation was not in regard to your fidelity to Christ and upholding the teaching of His Church. However, we had grave apprehension as our contact with some of the faithful in Boise had given cause for serious concern. ("Yes He Is! No He Isn't!" Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, September 1998, http://www.losangelesmission.com/ed/articles/1998/0998cz.htm)

In the same interview, you listed your activism in the area of homosexual rights among your accomplishments. The article states, "...he has not been afraid to ruffle feathers, speaking out in favor of gay civil rights..." and later added that, "In one instance, some were upset when he refused to support an anti-gay initiative in Idaho. The bishop said it would have "contributed to attitudes of intolerance and hostility directed at homosexual citizens." We saw this as significant because, as you must know, first impressions are important. By letting us know upon your first introduction that homosexuality is an issue close to your heart, you revealed (perhaps more than you meant to) the direction you wish to take us.

We have for years seen the element of elitist dissenters that have sought to dissemble Church teaching inside the Orange Diocese from within the chancery office and in the structure of Religious Education within the diocese. We were disheartened to see these dissenters dance with joy when Bishop McFarland made way for your arrival. Imagine our further disappointment upon hearing that our new bishop describes himself not as faithful, but as a "middle of the road," gay rights activist.

Fr. Gerald Coleman & Support For Homosexual Domestic Partnerships

Our disenchantment with your leadership was only heightened by the Fr. Gerald Coleman debacle. In February of 2000, you sent each priest in the diocese two articles by Fr. Gerald D. Coleman dealing with the Prop. 22 ban on homosexual marriage. In the message you wrote that Fr. Coleman's article "expresses very well my own thoughts on this subject." In that article, Fr. Coleman argued, "Some homosexual persons have shown that it is possible to enter into long-term, committed and loving relationships, named by certain segments of our society as domestic partnerships." We have a copy of your memo. (See below.)


The story was chronicled in the Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission:

Damnable Falsehood, Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, January 2001,

http://www.losangelesmission.com/ed/articles/2001/0201cc.htm

Studied Ambiguity — Reply to Father Coleman's Open Letter to the Mission, Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, May 2001, http://www.losangelesmission.com/ed/articles/2001/0501cz.htm

Lynch Responds To Coleman, Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, June 2001, http://www.losangelesmission.com/ed/news/0601news.htm

It is shocking that you felt secure enough in your position to fax an article to every priest in the diocese written by Fr. Coleman that claimed that homosexual partners are entitled to the same rights as married couples, adding that Fr. Coleman's sentiments are the same as your own. The Holy See has been made aware of this.

Sex Education Memo At Odds With Church Teaching

In 1999, Ruth Bradley, the director of the diocese's Office for Religious Education, and Carmela Treanor, director of the Office of Family Life, expressed in a letter written to you, their disapproval of an article in the former diocesan publication, the Diocese of Orange Bulletin, that highlighted a teen chastity program. They complained that the chastity program described in the Bulletin had a "pietistic approach and there might be an audience for it among home schoolers and fundamentalists." They also groused about references to sex education in schools being an "abysmal failure." Additionally, they stated their disagreement with those who believe that schools should not teach explicit sex education to children under the age of twelve. The spirit of this letter is deeply disturbing. It runs contrary to the spirit of The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, written under the direction of Alfonso Cardinal Lσpez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family in 1995. Moreover, it was written to you by people in positions of authority in your diocese, despite the fact that it clearly contradicts the mind of the Church on these matters. Why did these women, who work for you, feel comfortable sharing with you about their disagreement with Church teaching in these areas? This could lead reasonable people to conclude that your staff knows that you are sympathetic to this contrary mindset.

Dodgy Diaconate Training

We want to know why many candidates in formation for the diaconate in our diocese who strive to be orthodox have been asked to leave the program? Why does your Institute for Pastoral Ministry offer classes for Catechists and Master Catechists that are taught by liberal dissenters? It is remarkable how many of those teachers can be traced to Sts. Simon and Jude Parish in Huntington Beach which is known to be the most liberal parish in the diocese (and has produced at least two priests who molested young men).

Strange Attitudes About The Holy Eucharist

During your first ad limina visit as bishop of Orange with Pope John Paul II, the pope specifically noted his pleasure with the program of perpetual adoration in our diocese begun under Bishop McFarland. Yet, within a short time of your arrival, you sent each parish two new directives. Both directives were sent through the office of the infamous Fr. Rod Stephens. The first directive stated that Catholics must receive communion in the standing position. (In other words, you intended to prohibit Catholics from kneeling for Holy Communion.) Your second directive stated that in all newly constructed or renovated churches, there was to be made a separate chapel for the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. In establishing these new rules, you made clear to us that you side with the liberal elite who have deemed kneeling to receive the Holy Eucharist archaic and who believe that the Real Presence of Christ does not belong in the body of a church in plain view of the faithful.

We are all too familiar with this mindset. It is one that seeks to separate the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist from His people in the hope that when He is out of sight, He will soon be out of our minds. Frankly, we think those who aim to accomplish this are out of their own minds. They want to push Christ aside and bring their own agenda to the forefront. How can you honestly believe you are encouraging the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament the pope encouraged you to continue to foster when you require that the Blessed Sacrament must be hidden from the faithful and you deny them the right affirmed by the Church to kneel when they are receiving the God who made them in Holy Communion?

Persecution Of Kneeling Communicants

We have videotape and photographic evidence of you grabbing a woman in order to force her stand for Holy Communion. Bishop Brown, we remind you that you indicated that you opposed an Idaho initiative that you believe would have "contributed to attitudes of intolerance and hostility directed at homosexual citizens." Yet you seem to have no difficulty contributing to and actively expressing attitudes of intolerance and hostility directed at kneeling communicants and traditional Catholic piety. Why is that, Bishop Brown?

(See: Mean Tod Brown, http://closedcafeteria.blogspot.com/2006/04/mean-tod-brown.html)

The photograph and video shows that you first grabbed her folded hands and then tried to physically pull her up.

The woman related the following account of her interaction with you, which videotape of the occasion confirms, occurred within a matter of seconds:

    I am a Catholic from the Diocese of Orange, California. I attended the installation of Fr. Martin Benzoni as the new pastor of St. John the Baptist Church, 1015 Baker Street, Costa Mesa, California, 92626, Saturday evening, November 23, 2002...

    I was sitting on the side of the church, 3rd row, where Bishop Tod Brown distributed the Holy Eucharist, (in the video, I am the woman with short brown hair and glasses, wearing a black sweater and long white skirt sitting on the opposite side (from the camera) of the aisle in the center of the church) and upon approaching the Bishop to receive, I genuflected, out of reverence for the Sacred Species and remained on one knee to receive the Blessed Sacrament. Bishop Brown refused to give me Holy Communion. Bishop Brown said, "You need to stand up."

    I was in shock and didn't move or respond. He then reached out and took hold of my folded hands, attempting to physically pull me to a standing position, and said more sternly, "You need to stand."

    I looked up and whispered, quietly and respectfully, "Please, bishop," and he then grabbed my arm, and pulled me, as though to physically pull me up to a standing position (although obscured, you can see where he bends down and extends his right arm to grab mine) as he stated more loudly, "Get up."

    Still on one knee, I then asked very quietly and with genuine ignorance, "Why?"

    As he stood up straight he responded, very loudly and sternly, "Because THAT'S the way we receive communion. Now, GET UP, you're causing a scene.' (Capitalized words were accentuated [spoken more loudly] by the bishop. You can see in the video, if viewed frame by frame, that at that moment many heads turned toward the bishop, including a young girl and her mother in the other line of communicants and Fr. Pasqual Nguyen, in front and to the side of the bishop).

    Confused as to the problem, I lowered my head in a silent prayer, and not wanting to cause any further embarrassment to Fr. Benzoni during this holy occasion, I stood up and received Holy Eucharist.

Servite High School, Loretta Sanchez, & Respect For Life

On Tuesday, February 17, 2004, Servite High School held a public celebration of their campus' 45th anniversary. Additionally, this day celebrated the Feast of the Seven Holy Founders of the Order of Friar Servants of Mary. The community commemorated this milestone with a Mass celebrated by you, Bishop Brown.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a staunchly pro-abortion member of the House of Representatives (Democrat, 46th District) was also in attendance as an invited guest. Sanchez received Holy Communion at the Mass in view of the student body, some parents, and faculty. Sanchez represents a portion of Santa Ana, a portion of Fullerton, a portion of Anaheim, and a portion of Garden Grove (all of these cities are within the Diocese of Orange) in the United States Congress. Servite High School is in Anaheim, one of the areas Sanchez represents. She is a vocal advocate for "abortion rights" (including partial-birth abortion) and has attempted to use her status as a baptized Catholic to further her political career. She has done so, at times, with help from the priests in your diocese, including Msgr. Wilbur Davis, your vocations director. See: She's Okay, Vote for Her — Catholic Parishes Endorse Pro-Abort Candidate, Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, July/August 1998, http://www.losangelesmission.com/ed/articles/1998/0798mg.htm

We are confused as to why there was no reluctance on your part in ordering a kneeling communicant to stand for Holy Communion in a way that can easily be perceived as demeaning, but you neglected an obvious teaching moment with a pro-abortion "Catholic" politician who had been inappropriately invited to an all school Mass at an all boys' Catholic school with students, some parents, and faculty in attendance. Why, Bishop Brown, did you not publicly correct Loretta Sanchez at this Mass? Why, knowing she was present, did you not, at the very least, take the opportunity to defend rights of the unborn? Why was Ms. Sanchez allowed to receive Holy Communion?

You have never publicly called Ms. Sanchez to fidelity (although your predecessor, Bishop Norman MacFarland told her not to speak in churches). Why is that, Bishop Brown?

Msgr. Wilbur Davis

Your appointment of Msgr. Wilbur Davis as Vocations Director further signaled the course you wish to steer this diocese. Msgr. Davis is known for his disdain for orthodox practice. We have received complaints that he is screening out vocation candidates who are openly orthodox. We are also aware of his preaching at Servite High School during the all school Mass on the feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1999. During his homily, Msgr. Davis told all present that if they had met the Blessed Virgin in Galilee 2000 years ago, they would not want anything to do with her. He described her as being "dark" (which is unbelievably racially insensitive), "unattractive" and "ugly" (also racist), and "ignorant" (which is intellectually elitist). Such comments are inappropriate when made in reference to any person, but they are especially offensive when referring to the Mother of God, who is as Wordsworth called her, "Our tainted nature's solitary boast." Msgr. Davis went on to say that he was grateful to have had Wednesdays as his day off during his tenure as pastor of St. Boniface. He explained that his gratitude stemmed from not having to endure the overly saccharine sweet devotions to the Blessed Virgin after Wednesday morning Mass, the chosen day for this devotion. How pastorally sensitive of your Vocations Director to mock the simple piety of his former parishioners! Msgr. Davis had a tremendous opportunity to foster vocations at an all boys' high school with a student body of eight hundred, and instead he chose to offend students and faculty alike by badmouthing the Mother of God and deriding those with a devotion to Her. In 1998, Msgr. Davis wrote a letter to Msgr. Lawrence Baird, who was then the Director of Communications. His complaints dealt with topics covered in the Diocese Of Orange Bulletin. Msgr. Davis referred to Catholic Family Radio as "extremist." He called Mother Angelica of EWTN an apostle of "religious intolerance and arrogance." He also criticized Steubenville University as "the home of Catholics United for the Faith, a pathetic organization of bitter people."

Msgr. Davis' activities have also been chronicled in the Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission:

She's Okay, Vote for Her — Catholic Parishes Endorse Pro-Abort Candidate, Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, July/August 1998, http://www.losangelesmission.com/ed/articles/1998/0798mg.htm

I'm Outta Here: Convert Discouraged in Seeking Priesthood, Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, November 2002, http://www.losangelesmission.com/ed/articles/2002/1102rk.htm

Just Innuendo and Hearsay? A Retrospect on Bishop Brown, Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, June 2004,

http://losangelesmission.com/ed/articles/2004/0406rk.htm

This is the man you appointed to foster vocations in our diocese and that says a good deal about your judgment.

Fr. Gerald Horan, O.S.M., St. John the Baptist School, & Homosexuality (Again)

You have not done much better in choosing Fr. Gerald Horan, O.S.M. as the Superintendent of Catholic Schools. Fr. Horan is a known dissenter who has a history of persecuting orthodoxy. He does not believe in the teachings of the Church about sexual morality. Yet you have chosen this man to run Catholic education in our diocese.

Fr. Horan's progressive views on moral theology have made headlines since media attention focused on the presence of twin five-year-old boys in the kindergarten class at St. John the Baptist school in Costa Mesa who have been adopted by a homosexual (male) couple living in a domestic partnership.

This story has been widely reported in the press (not without some confusion as to the facts of the case) and is a potential source of confusion as to Church teaching. Details of the facts of the case were reported in the December 2005 edition of the New Oxford Review in an article by Michael Rose entitled, Homosexual Activism Meets Catholic Kindergarten:

    In a nutshell, Mike Farina and Ron Morelos enrolled two of their adopted sons in the kindergarten class at St. John's parish school in September 2004. The two men live in a same-sex domestic partnership with a total of four legally adopted children. St. John parents became aware of the couple's living situation after Farina and Morelos "very visibly" began to show up at the school, often together arm-in-arm with their younger children, to pick up their 5-year-old kindergartners at the end of the school day. According to parents, both men wore traditional wedding rings, signifying that they viewed their partnership as a "marriage," even though such a status has not yet been legally accorded by the State of California. Parents also discovered that Farina was quoted in The New York Times (Jan. 12, 2004) about his same-sex living situation in a favorable article about "married" homosexual men who choose to be "stay-at-home dads." Farina, identified as a 40-year-old who left his job as an engineer, recounted his struggle of trying to get his adopted children to bond with him.

    Questions about the same-sex couple's activism were raised when a St. John's parishioner accidentally received a newsletter in her mailbox at her home addressed to the same-sex couple. The newsletter, called "Family Tree," is the flagship publication of The Family Pride Coalition (FPC), whose slogan is "Equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents and their families." The FPC is clear about the intent of its organization: "It is vital that GLBT [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered] parents and families play a leadership role in the next stage of our movement for justice. We must be visible and active in our neighborhoods, towns, schools, places of worship, city councils, and state legislatures. We need to use public forums, media attention, legislative hearings, lobby visits, and other opportunities to educate the general public and our elected representatives about the reality of our lives."

    One of the stated purposes of the "gay-rights" activist group is to "assist parents who want to improve the atmosphere and curriculum at their children's school." In the Autumn 2003 edition of "Family Tree," the FPC announced the publication of Opening More Doors: LGBT Parents and Their Impact on School Policy, a guidebook that "represents the second phase of the Family Pride Coalition's educational advocacy efforts and is a primer for parents on effecting policy change to create safe and inclusive schools for their children." In between articles condemning the Vatican's stance against same-sex unions and news items trumpeting the advances of the "gay" agenda by institutions such as the American Bar Association and the California Supreme Court, the Farina-Morelos same-sex "family" appeared in a photograph in that edition of the newsletter, attending an FPC picnic in Palm Springs, Calif.

    Rumors of the children's enrollment at the school were confirmed publicly in October 2004, when the St. John the Baptist family directory listed Farina and Morelos as "father" and "father" of the children. Jack Nixon, who had a son in the same kindergarten class, said he was especially disappointed to find that school and parish officials had given their public blessing of the situation by publishing the directory. More importantly, however, Nixon was concerned that the same-sex couple was going out of its way to be a visible presence at the school. "I object to children seeing this sort of thing," he said of the double fathers fetching their children together after school. "It's not a sexual issue so much as it is a political one," he emphasized. "It seems to me that these two had a political agenda to make [same-sex family arrangements] acceptable at a Catholic school."

    One mother, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution from the school, said her kindergartner was obviously getting a distinct message about the "diversity" of families: "He would come home and tell me that 'Joey has two daddies.'" She added that she was worried that Farina was making a "big impression" on her child. "Mike [Farina] was always surrounding the kids after school," she said, "and trying to be friends with them; but what really bothered me was that he would talk to my son in my presence but would never acknowledge me. That alarmed me." Jack Nixon agreed. He said his experience with Farina was similar. "In my book," he said, "that's an improper way of acting. It's a red-flag."

    In addition to the couple attending Mass (including the reception of Holy Communion given by the pastor until too many complaints were lodged) and attending school functions together as a family, Morelos was given the job of managing the school's website and Farina was made a teacher's assistant to the kindergarten class, giving other parents the impression that the same-sex couple was accorded a kind of favored status in an effort to show everyone how tolerant and compassionate the school was. In other words, the presence of the same-sex couple was not only ratified by the school administration; it became a cause cιlθbre.

    Rick Cabral, an Internet programmer and father of a first-grader at the school, says he offered his volunteer services to manage St. John's website on several occasions. Despite his expertise, Cabral was never taken up on his offer by school officials. "I was surprised when I found out who was given the task instead," he said. Similarly, other parents say they've known many mothers who've volunteered to serve as a teacher's assistant in the classroom for years without being offered the opportunity.

    Some parents and other parishioners voiced their complaints about the overall situation to St. John's Pastor, Fr. Martin Benzoni. The priest's initial reply to their complaints was "it's a done deal," referring to the fact that the same-sex couple had been allowed to enroll its children in the parish school. Parents who approached St. John's longtime Principal, Sister Mary Vianney Ennis, say they received a stiffer reply: "If you are not happy at the school, I don't see why you would stay." In other words, she told the parents to take a hike. Further, the Irish-born Sister of Mercy nun defended her decision by claiming the homosexual couple "can't help it; they were born that way" — one of the most specious stock lines repeated by those pushing the homosexualist agenda.

    A few months later, in December 2004, a group of 18 concerned parents wrote a letter to Sr. Vianney detailing their concerns, saying, "We are particularly concerned that your decision is contrary to the teachings of the Church, and is counterproductive to the spiritual well-being and growth of the children involved, as well as their caregivers." They noted that according to Pope John Paul II's 2003 "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons," Catholics have a duty to oppose same-sex domestic partnerships, and refrain in every way from co-operating with or supporting such a lifestyle. The parents wrote that they believed the approbation given the same-sex couple by the school administration was affirming the couple in their sin and condoning the adoption of children by a same-sex couple. They also pointed out that both the Church and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child condemn such adoptions in terms of "doing violence" to the adopted children in question

    After many of these same parents and others sent a letter to the Diocese of Orange's Bishop Tod Brown complaining about Sr. Vianney's stance and her defiant attitude in the matter, the school administration released a "mission statement" that was later sent out as a press release to media outlets that were calling the school for comment on the controversy. The mission statement read, in part:

    [The administration of St. John the Baptist School] recognizes that our students come from a variety of family backgrounds, some of which may not fully conform to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

    The personal family background of a student does not constitute an absolute obstacle to enrollment in the school. Nor does acceptance of any children for enrollment in the school condone or imply approval of any parental living situation which may be contrary to Church teaching. The primary purpose of St. John the Baptist School is the education of young people in order to assist them in their academic, personal and spiritual growth.

    By January 2005 the situation at St. John the Baptist School was being reported on by local and national media, including a report on National Public Radio as well as the national wire services. The first major article appeared in the Los Angeles Times. When Fr. Benzoni defended his position by calling it orthodox — "I firmly believe that this policy is in line with the teaching of the Catholic Church" — he found himself supported by some strange bedfellows. The Rainbow Sash Coalition, a group of homosexual activists that agitates for "gay rights" specifically in the Catholic Church, praised Benzoni's quote and lauded Bishop Tod Brown for not intervening in the affair. Joe Murray, who identifies himself as the U.S. Convener of the Rainbow Sash Coalition, said, "We are saddened that fundamentalist Catholics would use innocent children to push their anti-gay agenda. The school officials of St. John the Baptist are rightfully championing the rights of gay parents to send their children to Catholic schools. Some Catholic bishops have found the backbone to speak out against this radical fundamentalist nonsense in the Catholic Church, and Bishop Brown joins those voices of reason."

    For its part, the Family Pride Coalition sent out a "special Family Pride action alert" in response to the situation, writing: "The principal, pastor and superintendent of the school have taken a stand in support of inclusion and refused to discriminate against this [same-sex] family. As your national family organization, we encourage you to email the principal and pastor expressing your support and thanks for their stand for all families."

    By and large, the mainstream media reports, even on National Public Radio, covering the St. John school controversy were surprisingly even-handed in their treatment of the parents who objected to the same-sex "family's" presence at the school. Ironically, however, a longtime neoconservative Catholic icon implied the concerned parents were intolerant bigots. In a press release responding to the initial Los Angeles Times article, William Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, weighed in on the issue in support of the school and the same-sex "family." Drawing from the text crafted by the Catholic League, Donohue was quoted in newspapers from coast to coast saying, "it makes no sense to single out kids for retribution whose parents are gay.... There is no fundamental tension between opposing gay marriage as a matter of public policy and accepting the children of gay parents in a Catholic school. Unfortunately, there are some who are so exercised about the former that it has clouded their vision about the latter."

    The Catholic League's stated mission is to defend Catholics and the institutional Church against attacks of defamation and discrimination. It may be surmised then that Donohue felt the concerned parents at St. John the Baptist were defaming the Church by voicing their well-tempered and respectful objections to the decisions of St. John's school administration. The Catholic League press release got plenty more mileage than Donohue likely anticipated. The "gay media" erupted in jubilation at finding the neoconservative Catholic honcho on their side. First, the Rainbow Sash Coalition, in its own press release, paid Donohue the ultimate compliment by actually plagiarizing several sentences from the Catholic League statement. New York's Gay City News lauded Donohue, the "arch foe of gay rights advances," for standing up for the "right of two kindergarten boys, who have gay dads."

    But St. John's parents say Donohue missed the point entirely. "The kids of this couple are pawns," said parent Jack Nixon. "The kids are being used by their parents as part of an agenda to make their family's lifestyle acceptable in the Church."

    Fr. Benzoni also used the Catholic League statement to bolster his case by publishing Donohue's full press release in St. John's parish bulletin. Fernando Guido, a member of the parish council, saw Benzoni's use of the press release as pure propaganda. "I was heartbroken when I saw Bill Donohue's support of this," Guido said. "He was hasty in his comments. I've got to believe he didn't have all the facts."

    Yet those who vilified the concerned parents more than anyone were school administrators. "We were made to look like un-Christian bigots," said Maria Criger, "and even my daughter started to be treated differently after I voiced my concern to Sr. Vianney."

    According to a number of parents who spoke one-on-one with Sr. Vianney, the principal reacted strongly to their objections. Lisa Cabral, who later pulled her children out of the school, reported: "Sr. Vianney told me that the people who are 'condemning' the couple are 'evil.'" Cabral says she told the principal that she and her husband were concerned that instead of converting the same-sex couple, the couple would convert everyone else. "Ironically," she observed, "the 'evil' parents were the ones sticking up for Church teaching."

    Sr. Vianney also publicly aired her irritation with the parents who were critical of her controversial decision. In school bulletins, the nun wrote such things as, "The big question is: Where can we put our hatred while we say our prayers?" and "As we live through these days of Advent let us remember that as Christians we follow a leader who teaches that inclusion of all peoples is worthy of the risks that it brings."

    The rancor ensuing from the controversy reached the point where many parents and some teachers at the school began to accuse the concerned parents of being in defiance of basic Christian values by not "lovingly accepting" homosexual domestic partnerships. Lisa Tran, one of the parents who signed the letter of protest to Sr. Vianney, says she has had to endure verbal harassment from others at the parish who accuse her of making a public issue out of the situation. "Many parents and parishioners regard these men as heroes for adopting four children and enrolling them in a Catholic school," said Tran. "The administration and faculty has put so much emphasis on tolerance, acceptance and charity that they've forgotten how to admonish the sinner. The people who have opposed the situation at St. John's are the ones being persecuted."

    Another concerned parent was sent an e-mail from a fellow school parent and parishioner that read in part: "The very Christian church that you are referring to teaches tolerance...something you and your 'following' don't seem to have. I'm sorry but the God I believe in would never support the verbal diarrhea that you are dishing out. Fortunately, your sad little contingent is in a minority. Why don't you just join the 'church' that you truly belong to — the KKK and their ilk. I am proud to know dozens of homosexual men and women who are wonderful parents, friends, caregivers, taxpayers and human beings. What people do in the privacy of their bedrooms is none of your concern or business. Your kind makes it very hard for me to be tolerant, but tolerant I must be. You are using the Catholic Church to cloak your hate. All of us see right through you. Honestly, it's just pure ignorance that creates this kind of hate and discrimination. You should be ashamed to actually call yourselves Christians. I think 'hate mongers' is a more accurate moniker."

    A few months later, after a group of parishioners voiced its concerns in writing to the Vatican's Prefect for Catholic Education, Fr. Benzoni crafted a surprising change in policy. According to a May 6, 2005, school memo, "children adopted by a same-sex couple" may enroll at the school "on the condition that the same-sex couple agree not to present themselves as a couple at school functions." According to new language included in the 2005-2006 school handbook, "no one in the context of the St. John the Baptist school community is to give witness to a lifestyle that is in conflict with the morality of the Gospel."

    The pastor's announcement was followed by two other surprises: St. John the Baptist Church would be getting a new pastor and Sr. Vianney's contract as school principal had not yet been renewed. The concerned parents who had been voicing their complaints to the Norbertine Fathers, among others, welcomed the changes. It appeared that the Norbertine Fathers were not happy with what had transpired at the parish school.

    When a group of self-proclaimed "liberal Catholics" at the parish — including many of the same people who had vilified the parents who protested the presence of the same-sex couple — heard that Sr. Vianney's contract had not yet been renewed, they took immediate action by forming a "Save Sister" campaign. They inaugurated an informational website and churned out press releases about a protest vigil they planned at St. John's in June 2005. According to the group's press release, "priests from the conservative Norbertine order.... have not offered Sister Vianney a contract and have offered no explanation to the parents.... Parents can only surmise that Sister Vianney is being fired because she felt it was morally wrong and discriminatory to enforce a policy that St. John the Baptist pastor Father Martin Benzoni plans to implement next school year."

    Sr. Vianney's group of supporters put on a dramatic protest for the media on the night of June 13 when they banged on the doors of the rectory, yelling, "come out you cowards!" — a reference to Fr. Benzoni and other Norbertine priests — and "the Norbertines are evil!" A number of parents characterized the protest as "a mob scene."

    The Norbertine Fathers were not unaffected by this high drama, which was broadcast on Los Angeles television news that night. Not long after, the Norbertines announced in a press release that Sr. Vianney's contract would be renewed, but that St. John's school would be run according to a "new administrative model" that includes both a principal and a rector in leadership positions. The Norbertines appointed Fr. Norbert Wood to the newly created position of Rector. While Sr. Vianney would continue to oversee day-to-day operations at the school, the new Rector's responsibility would be to oversee "areas more specific to the Catholic nature of the school." According to the press release, both Fr. Norbert and Sr. Vianney pledged fidelity to the teachings of the Church. "In collaboration with the Pastor and Rector of the school," Sr. Vianney stated, "I continue to be absolutely committed to upholding the teachings of the Church and their day-to-day implementation in the school."

    This move by the Norbertines temporarily placated the two factions that had emerged at St. John the Baptist School. The parent group that had protested the presence of a same-sex couple at the school was satisfied with the new policy, at least as a compromise that recognized the authority of Church teaching in the matter; and the "liberal" parent group that had championed Sr. Vianney's cause was glad that the nun would continue to function as principal at the school. However, both factions harbored reservations. The "liberal" faction wondered if the new priest from the Norbertines, a religious order they already disdained as "ultraconservative," would crowd out Sr. Vianney. Some of the teachers in the "liberal" faction also voiced their displeasure at the new policy barring same-sex couples from appearing at school functions together. In the "conservative" camp, some wondered if the new Rector was just a nominal position created to diffuse the immediate situation.

    But everyone found out very quickly what would happen. Fr. Norbert Wood, the new school Rector, issued a memo to those parents who had formally voiced their concern about the presence of a same-sex couple at the school. Fr. Norbert did not apologize for the way they had been vilified by the school administration and ostracized by others in the parish community. Instead, Fr. Norbert demanded a retraction and apology from each of the concerned parents. Further, according to the memo, if they did not comply with his directive they would not be permitted to enroll their children in the parish school for the 2005-2006 academic year.

    Lisa Tran received her memo in person during a July 7, 2005, meeting with the new Rector. Fr. Norbert listed four major points he insisted be included in her apology to Sr. Vianney. She and the other parents had to apologize for "the harsh and condemnatory tone" and "exaggerations" of the letter which was sent to Sr. Vianney in December 2004, and agree that, in the future, they would leave it to the Pastor, Rector, and Principal to address any issues pertaining to the school.

    Parents interviewed consistently reported that in personal meetings with Fr Norbert, the Rector was not shy about calling them names such as "Pharisee" and "hypocrite." To a man, each was devastated by the way he was treated by a priest of the Norbertine order, who they assumed would be interested in healing the rift in the parish. None of the parents felt that their December 2004 letter was either exaggerated or harsh. And none believed that the language demanded by Fr. Norbert reflected their true feelings on the matter. While they say they were truly sorry that a controversy developed and that Sr. Vianney was offended, they felt it was fully within their rights to voice their legitimate concerns to the leaders of the Church.

    In the end, some of the parents decided to write the apology in order that their children not suffer retribution for the controversy. Others, such as Maria Criger and Lisa Cabral, having lost all confidence in the school, decided to begin homeschooling their children.

    "It's funny how St. John's really used that William Donohue statement to their advantage," observed Lisa Tran. "'You can't punish the children for the sins of their fathers' [Donohue said in effect]. I guess they only meant if the fathers are homosexual."

In addition to the facts mentioned in the article, it should be noted that the homosexual couple were seated in a place of prominence during at least one monthly parent/faculty meeting next to Sr. Mary Vianney Ennis, SM, the school principal, in what appeared to be a show of solidarity. This and the other events chronicled above made it clear to a number of families in the parish school that progressive teachers and parents involved at St. John the Baptist were showcasing this couple in order to promote an agenda. The perception was that there was a movement among some faculty and parents involved in the school to encourage the full acceptance of homosexual unions as another type of family, equal in dignity and value to Catholic marriage.

As the article mentions, the male couple with custodial rights over the twins enrolled at St. John the Baptist were featured in the Fall 2003 Family Tree newsletter which can be viewed by downloading the file from the web page linked here: http://www.familypride.org/site/pp.asp?c=bhKPI7PFImE&b=315564

On page eleven of the newsletter, they appear in a photograph with the adopted children with a caption that reads, "Members of the Pop Luck Club enjoyed time with their kids and each other during the Family Pride Coalition's Palm Springs event in 2002."

In the light of your own memorandum sent to all diocesan priests on February 15, 2000 in support of civil unions for homosexuals and the inclusion of the Gerald Coleman article, Is Proposition 22 Discriminatory?, with your added comment that Fr. Coleman's thoughts on the matter are your own, we feel that there may be some confusion in the minds of Catholics and non-Catholics as to the teaching of the Church on homosexual activity (as being intrinsically evil), the homosexual orientation (as being an intrinsically disordered orientation) and domestic partnerships among homosexuals and non-married heterosexuals (as being contrary to Church teaching and a grave threat to families, society, and the moral order).

This confusion is compounded by the comments of Fr. Gerald Horan, OSM, Superintendent of Schools and Director of Religious Education for the entire diocese, made to the media. When questioned about the matter by the press, Fr Horan made the following statements to the Los Angeles Times that were quoted in literally hundreds of news articles that picked up the story:

    "But Father Gerald M. Horan, superintendent of schools run by the Diocese of Orange, rejected the idea of a parental covenant. If the school barred gay parents from enrolling their children, they would also have to ban children of parents who violate other church teachings, including those who are divorced, use birth control or weren't married in the church, he said."

    "This is the quagmire that [the parents'] position represents," Horan said. "It's a slippery slope to go down." (Los Angeles Times, Sunday, January 2, 2005)

Fr. Horan was also quoted as saying:

    "It's not really our role to make moral judgments on the life choices of our parents," said Father Gerald Horan, the diocese's superintendent of schools. "We're there for students, not to endorse or condemn parents."

    "Furthermore, Horan said, the kindergarten- through eighth-grade campus is a private school, and if parents don't approve of who is allowed to attend, they have the option to enroll their children elsewhere. (Orange County Register, Tuesday, January 4, 2005)

Media reports that parents want the children removed from the school, or "punished" for the "sins of their fathers" were inaccurate. All the parents wanted was for Church teaching on these matters to be made clear to all parents and students at St. John the Baptist (and after the story was picked up by the media, the general public at large). Ordinarily, teaching on matters such as domestic partnership and homosexuality are not appropriate for Catholic school students before high school age. However, in this instance, the nature of the relationship between these men was known (prior to any public criticism of the nature of that relationship).

The twin boys' teacher, had already had one of the "fathers" as a parent aide in the classroom, where he was left, at times, unsupervised with the entire kindergarten class. Additionally, at least one St. John the Baptist kindergarten teacher apparently explained (in a lesson taught to the children in her class) how there are many different types of families. That lesson is evidence of clear efforts to indoctrinate young minds with an agenda at odds with Church teaching and in support of legitimizing and normalizing so-called "alternative lifestyles." None of these concerns were reported in the press, but all were brought to the attention of Fr. Martin Benzoni, Sr. Mary Vianney Ennis, and diocesan officials. Nothing was done until the media broke the story, and then, concerned parishioners and families were told that the homosexual couple had been informed that they may no longer aide in the classroom or appear as a homosexual couple on campus.

Parents asked that those who enroll their children at Catholic schools sign a form stating that they support and understand the fact that the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church on matters of faith and morals will be taught to students in all Catholic schools within the diocese. Diocesan officials rejected this policy as unworkable. Why?

Is it Church policy to baptize children whose parents are not practicing Catholics that are faithful to the teachings of the Church on matters of faith and morals, especially when the infidelity is not a private matter of conscience, but a public act of rebellion from Church teaching on both sexual morality and domestic partnerships?

Why were these children not given private instruction in the Catholic faith in order to avoid the appearance that the parish and school was endorsing, or at best indifferent to the homosexual lifestyle and homosexual domestic partnerships? It is certainly clear that promoting the appearance that homosexual relationships at odds with Church teaching are acceptable was the goal of at least some of the Catholics at St. John the Baptist parish, if not the homosexual couple. There are indications that there were efforts toward that end among some of the faculty at the school as well. It was no secret that many parishioners and parents at the school openly spoke of how wonderful these "fathers" are and of their perception that the admission of these children to the school signaled a new era of acceptance and tolerance, not only within their own community, but in the Church.

Will you, as Bishop of Orange, make a public statement clarifying for all at St. John the Baptist school, the diocese at large, and the media, Church teaching on the matters of homosexual activity, the homosexual orientation, and domestic partnership, thereby further clarifying your position since the time of your February 15, 2000 memorandum in support of homosexual domestic partnerships?

We are deeply troubled by the fact that many news outlets reported that Fr. Horan said, "If Catholic beliefs were strictly adhered to, then children whose parents divorced, used birth control or married outside the church would also have to be banned." This amounts to a public admission on the part of Fr. Horan that, by diocesan policy, Catholic belief is not strictly adhered to within Catholic schools in our diocese.

Bishop Brown, St. John the Baptist School, & Homosexuality (Again)

We are aware of your letter commending Fr. Benzoni and the staff at St. John the Baptist which states: "I am writing to you to express my appreciation and support for the way you and your staff have conducted yourselves amid the controversy brought about by the revelation that the child of a same-sex couple had been admitted to your parish school."

In the same letter, you also said:

    Your first concern has always been for the pastoral well-being of all your parishioners, especially those who are enrolled in your parish school and religious education programs. This is clearly evident in the diversity policy of your school.

    While some believe any direct involvement of men and women of homosexual orientation is a threat to the teaching of the Church about the sanctity of sexuality and marriage, you and your staff have treated the adults in question with the "respect, compassion and sensitivity" which is called for in the recent statement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.

    While some protested that you and I were doing otherwise, you have been steadfast in articulating and following the teachings of the Church on these matters, which I too wholeheartedly affirm, of course. You have even directed your parishioners to internet links that allow them to find and read pertinent Church documents on marriage, sexual ethics, homosexuality and the like, including the document mentioned above.

    To your parishioners and staff you communicated clearly and sensitively what was going on and why you did what you did; through your efforts, many more Catholics are now aware of the Church's teachings and pastoral practice. You made yourself personally available to any parishioner who had concerns or questions.

    I believe the efforts you and your staff have made are exemplary and I support you completely. Christians were first known for the love they had for one another, your love for your parishioners is clear in your pastoral practice and in the way you articulate the teachings of the Catholic Church. May God continue to bless your pastoral ministry

Bishop Brown, your letter ignores that fact that you were in no way involved with the inception or implementation of any of the measures taken by Fr. Benzoni that you commended. You also omit the fact that none of these steps were taken until long after parents had expressed grave concerns about the other serious issues documented here, issues your letter of commendation completely ignores.

Your letter seems to imply that the concerned parents who had spent months attempting to get Fr. Benzoni to take action were in the wrong. It appears that you were alluding to these parents when you wrote: "...some believe any direct involvement of men and women of homosexual orientation is a threat to the teaching of the Church about the sanctity of sexuality and marriage..." Was that your intention, Bishop Brown?

You seem unaware that at least one parent had spoken with Fr. Benzoni about the enrollment and future attendance of these children months before the school year began and was told by Fr. Benzoni that the acceptance of these students was "a done deal," despite this parent's concerns about the homosexual relationship and the scandal this parent knew would be given. You seem completely unconcerned about the fact that Fr. Benzoni knew less of the situation than the other parents who eventually expressed their concerns after the school year began and the worries previously expressed by the first parent had become realities apparent to any objective observer. You neglected to remind Fr. Benzoni that he should, as pastor, have been more involved with the admissions process and the running of the school. You seem unaware of the fact that the impression that priests, religious, diocesan officials, and faculty at a Catholic grade school supported the public acceptance of a homosexual domestic partnership was given to students on campus, families in the parish, and to the general public (when the story was made known in the larger media), and that this impression could not possibly be significantly diminished by directing parishioners to utilize links to Church documents on the Internet in a parish bulletin.

Moreover, your seven words of support for Church teaching, the only indication of your position given throughout the entire debacle, which appear in your letter as little more than a barely acknowledged formality, namely "...which I too wholeheartedly affirm, of course..." were a wholly inadequate defense of Church teaching, especially when considering the facts of the issue at hand. If you were ignorant of these facts, it was your duty to know them. If you were aware of them, how could you possibly applaud the actions of the faculty at the school?

Furthermore, in addition to the fact that those woefully inadequate words of support were not expressed publicly, but rather in a private letter to Fr. Benzoni, they seem incompatible with Fr. Horan's statements to the media in his role as your Superintendent of Catholic schools and your own memo in support of homosexual domestic partnerships, which was at that time, public knowledge. So it could be easily argued that your support for Church teaching in these matters isn't as clear as you would have people believe.

The fact that St. John the Baptist parish and school was inundated with e-mails and calls of support from the gay community applauding the parish for its "acceptance" of a homosexual "family" only underscores the absolute insufficiency of the efforts you applauded in articulating the authentic teaching of the Church in this matter. Your own negligence with regard to making Church teaching on these issues clear is also cause for grave concern. You appear to have done more than fail to teach the truth. You appear to have allowed erroneous understandings to flourish with a wink and a nod while never officially contradicting Church teaching and whispering a willing assent to Church teaching to the Norbertine fathers in an effort to cover all bases.

You seem unconcerned that faculty members reacted to Fr. Martin's directive not to allow these men to appear on campus as a couple or assist as parent aides in the kindergarten classroom with outrage and protests that such a directive was "discriminatory." These same progressive faculty members (many of whom had previously made an open show of support for this couple — a show of support that heightened the awareness of many parents to the obvious problems inherent in the situation and instigated their initial concern — long before any public expression of concern about the homosexual relationship) and Sr. Vianney (who initially threatened to resign at the news of this directive) resolved that, from that point forward, no parents would be allowed to aide in the classroom. That too seems not to concern you. You do not seem troubled that parents who dissent from Church teaching on homosexuality turned against Fr. Benzoni and the Norbertine fathers once Church teaching on these matters was expressed; and that this dissent and resentment for the Norbertine fathers was encouraged by many of the same parents (and faculty members) who had been so supportive of the presence of this homosexual couple at the school and in the parish from the beginning.

You don't seem to care that Sr. Vianney encouraged families who disagreed with her decision to allow these children to matriculate at St. John the Baptist to leave the school. You ignored the fact that these parents and families were expressing legitimate concerns. They were not concerned because there was anything wrong with the children, but rather because the children were being used by their homosexual caretakers to parade their homosexual relationship around a Catholic campus in front of young children and they were being aided and abetted in this by willing parents and faculty members who were of a progressive mindset that was known by the concerned parents to be at odds with Church teaching. You also allowed your Superintendent to tell the media that if parents were concerned, they were free to take their children elsewhere! So it would seem that the primary concern of those in charge, including you, was respect for the homosexual "family." It would seem that as far as you and your administrators were concerned, everyone else was expendable.

Since Fr. Horan has attached the issues of divorce, the use of birth control, and marriage outside the Church to this matter in a way that suggests that many Catholics in schools throughout the diocese would be adversely affected "if Catholic beliefs were strictly adhered to," we strongly encourage you to make Church teaching on those matters clear as well. This would also avoid the danger of accusations of discrimination against persons who retain custodial relations with minors enrolled in Catholic schools within the diocese who are also involved in homosexual or heterosexual domestic partnerships.

Fr. Joseph Fenton, Homosexuality, & The Passion Of The Christ

Your diocesan spokesman, Fr. Joseph Fenton, is another fine example of your carefully selected diocesan appointees. His gaffes in the press have only increased the embarrassment of Catholics in this diocese. His imprudence is really quite extraordinary. Yet we must admit that we appreciate his candor. He recently had a phone conversation with a woman who had called him asking what the diocese was going to do to protect children from homosexual priests who are preying on adolescent boys. She asked if the diocese planned to remove homosexual priests from active ministry. Fr. Fenton bluntly retorted, "If we did that, there would be so few priests left we'd have to turn it [the Church] over to lay people to run it." While we understand Fr. Fenton probably intended to be hyperbolic, we are as well aware as Fr. Fenton apparently is that there are a lot of homosexually oriented priests in this diocese and in the Church as a whole.

On Wednesday, February 25, 2004, Ann Pepper wrote a column for the Orange County Register entitled, "Orange County Clergymen Share 'Passion' Reaction." The article reflected the reactions of four Orange County spiritual leaders who got together Monday for an early look at Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ, and, at the Register's request, each described what they saw and how the movie affected them.

Here's what Fr. Joseph Fenton, your diocesan spokesman for the 1.1-million member Catholic Diocese of Orange had to say:

    "I saw a very tedious, slow-moving, graphic, violent motion picture. Anyone who has examined the life of Jesus will have problems with it. The message of Jesus offering a new covenant based on love and compassion is missing. What is emphasized is the sacrificial nature of Christ's life to the extent that it is played with extreme violence. Nobody under 15 should see that film. I would not take my mother to see it. You have to already know the story to understand the film. It does not give you any context. You have no sympathy for Jesus if you don't know anything about him. You have to come into this film with some perspective in your own life about who Jesus is. If you are of the bent that feels that graphic suffering makes you feel the terrible sinner that you are and Jesus is saving you, then this is going to be a very big plus in your favor when you see the movie. I saw nothing that was anti-Semitic in a classic sense, but I think people should discuss the film, because I think it could lead some uninformed people to think that way." (Orange County Register, February 25, 2004)

Fr. Fenton's antipathy toward any notion of sin, suffering, and sacrifice shine through loud and clear in his comments.

Martin Luther King, Jr. For Sainthood?

Catholics throughout the diocese were confused by your efforts to nominate Martin Luther King, Jr. for recognition as a Christian martyr:

    According to news reports bishops and religious orders worldwide submitted 10,000 names. Nominations were supposed to be secret to prevent disappointment over those not selected. But Bishop Tod Brown of Orange CA, who headed the U.S. nomination panel, released Martin Luther King's name to the Boston Globe. [A little public pressure here, perhaps?] Brown called King a "prophet in terms of civil rights."

    Well, that depends on whose civil rights you're talking about. In a speech delivered by his wife who accepted Planned Parenthood's Margaret Sanger Award for him (May 5, 1966), King advocated population control saying "we spend paltry sums for population planning even though its spontaneous growth is an urgent threat to life on our planet..."[Was this plagiarized from Al Gore?] "Family Planning...is possible, practical and necessary. Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not yet understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess." King described the "striking kinship" between the civil rights movement and "Margaret Sanger's early efforts." He praised Sanger for her "courage and vision" and called her efforts to limit black families an "important institutional remedy" to their problems. The poor, he said, "have many unwanted children. This is a cruel evil they urgently need to control." Like Sanger, King advocated eliminating poverty by eliminating children.

    Critics of King often mention his womanizing and plagiarism, but, as Catholics, we find most horrifying his promotion of Planned Parenthood's agenda. The first state abortion law passed the year following this speech. See: Martin Luther King Jr. for Sainthood? http://www.lesfemmes-thetruth.org/5twilightwin.htm

Catholic World News also covered the story:

    BOSTON (CWNews.com) — The US bishops' conference included the Rev. Martin Luther King on a list forwarded to the Vatican of potential 20th century martyrs, according to a report in The Boston Globe newspaper today.

    The list of martyrs is being gathered by a Vatican commission set up for a special ceremony to be led by Pope John Paul II later this year, and the Holy Father specifically recommended inclusion of non-Catholic Christian martyrs. The process is separate from the more rigorous cause for canonization.

    The US bishops included King, a Baptist minister who led the civil rights movement during the 1960s and was assassinated, may be a controversial choice because he was not killed as a missionary or preacher, but as the leader of a social movement. There have also been questions regarding unethical or immoral behavior during his life.

    Bishop Tod Brown of Orange, California, who led the bishops' nominating committee which forwarded 25 to 30 names to the Vatican, told the Globe that King was "a prophet in terms of civil rights. ... His whole rationale had a strong spiritual basis." Other nominees reportedly included four religious women murdered in El Salvador in 1980.

    Paul Henderson of the bishops' conferences' Jubilee Year office said the names of the nominees have not been officially released because some people may be hurt or disappointed if someone was not chosen. See: Report Says U.S. Bishops Recommend M. L. King As Martyr, Catholic World News, January 14, 2000, http://www.dailycatholic.org/issue/2000Jan/jan14nv3.htm

Despite your widely recognized devotion to political correctness, we have to wonder what you were thinking in making this nomination, much less sharing it with the Boston Globe? It caused Orange County Catholics who properly understand the Catholic faith a good deal of embarrassment, because the nomination generated a good deal of confusion among some Catholics and non-Catholic Christians. An excellent example of such confusion is illustrated on an anti-Catholic website designed to demonstrate the appearance of impermanence in Catholic teaching on matters of faith and morals, using your nomination of Martin Luther King Jr. as an example, and contrasting the nomination with citations from documents containing actual Church teaching. See: What Does It Take To Be A Martyr? http://www.sxws.com/charis/relics20.htm

Fr. Rod Stephens, Bishop Brown, & Homosexuality (Again)

Then there is the way you handled the problem of Fr. Rod Stephens, your former director of Liturgy and Evangelization. Fr. Stephens is more progressive than some of the progressive elitists because he at least possesses the integrity to be less discreet (and consequently more honest) about his sexuality and his agenda. What baffled us was why you pretended to be unaware that Fr. Rod was effectively living with Howard Sellers as his lover and business partner. It was known to be an open secret in the diocese, (they were even known to send out joint Christmas/Chanukah greeting cards, as is evidenced by the picture included below) yet you looked the other way. It is unbelievable that donations of hard-earned money from the laity were given to Howard and Rod through their business, Sacra Forma, so that churches could be rendered (in the opinion of many within the diocese) less beautiful and less overtly Catholic in their identity. It is absolutely sickening that Rod and Howard then used this money in order to finance, among other things, a penguin-watching love cruise. Yet you did nothing about this, even years after it was exposed, until you found out that evidence had been obtained through a private investigator demonstrating that Fr. Rod was still sleeping at Howard's house in direct disobedience to your own instruction. We were not surprised by Fr. Rod's decision to disregard your request. He privately told friends and family that you and Cardinal Mahony were well aware of his behavior and approved of it.

We know that although Fr. Stephens has since taken a leave of absence from the priesthood, but you, Bishop Brown, have allowed your pastors to retain his consultation services throughout the diocese and pay him handsomely, reportedly to the tune of around $300.00 an hour at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, St. Anthony Mary Claret Parish, and the Mission San Juan Capistrano.

The Fr. Rod Stephens cover-up was documented in the Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission:

All That Perceptions Stuff — Ex-priest Rod Stephens Still Works in Orange Diocese, Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, July/August 2004, http://www.losangelesmission.com/ed/articles/2004/0407rk.htm

Ignoring Serious Problems In The Priesthood

Your response to the scandal of the numerous priests within our diocese who have committed acts of sexual impropriety with minors is disturbing because it demonstrates that you refuse to address the root source of this crisis. We are not at all surprised to see that a number of priests were not faithful. We already knew they were unorthodox in their fidelity to Church doctrine, so it is to be expected that they would be unfaithful in its practice. Some of these priests have been telling people for years that it is acceptable to masturbate or use artificial contraception despite clear and constant Church teaching that such behavior constitutes grave matter and that to do so with sufficient refection and full consent is a mortal sin. If these men think it is okay for others to masturbate, why would they not do it themselves? (If stealing weren't wrong, who wouldn't steal?) But the slippery slope of logic that allowed these men to advise Catholics that sexual sin was okay, so long as they themselves felt comfortable with their behavior in their own consciences, coincided with greater and greater moral lapses on their own part. These men were not well formed in the seminary and their behavior indicates that they had poor prayer lives. Moreover, some of them clearly entered the priesthood as a way of dealing with their homosexuality. That is the real problem, Bishop Brown. These priests are not pedophiles. They are homosexual men who prey on adolescent boys because of their attraction to them. Pedophiles are attracted primarily to preadolescent children of either gender. These priests' acts of sexual abuse usually involved teenage boys. The attraction was homosexual in nature and these priests allowed themselves, through habitual incontinence, to slip into acting out their unhealthy sexuality with post pubescent young men.

A quantitative analysis of the nature and extent of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States from 1950 to 2002, prepared by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, was conducted through three questionnaires mailed to dioceses and religious orders throughout the United States. John Jay College reported that 97 percent of the 195 dioceses, and religious orders, representing 80 percent of the religious order priests in the U.S., participated in the survey. The study determined that approximately 4 percent of all priests were accused of abuse between 1950 and 2002. Part of that study may be viewed here: http://www.usccb.org/nrb/johnjaystudy/incident3.pdf

Approximately 44% of the accused priests were accused by more than one person, and contrary to the suggestions implied by the media, the victims have not been preadolescent children; they were generally teenage boys, as shown in the figure below from the Associated Press (The Post-Crescent, Feb. 28, 2004, p. A-4).

According to the report, 81.9 % of sex crimes committed against young people by Catholic priests during the past 52 years involved homosexual men preying on boys. Only 5.8% of victims were under age 7; 16% percent were between ages 8-10; and over 78% were between the ages of 11-17. That's not pedophilia, Bishop Brown. That is homosexual ephebophilia. Why won't you acknowledge this?

Homosexual priests have been a problem in the Church and in our own diocese. Why aren't you doing something about this, Bishop Brown?

Do not immediately retreat to the tried and tired accusations of ignorance, homophobia, bigotry, and oppression. That horse won't run anymore. We do not hate homosexuals. We do not seek their oppression or that they be denied anything inherent to the dignity of any human person. It is immoral to be cruel to any person, and as Catholics we seek to lead others to Christ and we know that this cannot be done by mocking or oppressing anyone. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is careful to point out how homosexually oriented persons are to be treated: "They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided." (CCC, #2358) However, it is not loving or compassionate to enable someone in patterns of behavior that are self-destructive and consequentially socially destructive. It isn't good to tell an alcoholic that because they have an inherently disordered love of alcohol, they are free to drink with impunity. Alcohol isn't evil. God made it and it is good. However, it is not good to have a disordered love of alcohol and it is wrong to use this disordered love as an excuse for the sin of deliberate drunkenness. The same holds true for homosexuality. Human love is a good. It is not wrong to love other people, even people of the same sex. Sexuality isn't evil either. It is a gift of God wherein we are honored with sharing in His creative power and bring new souls into the world by the unitive and procreative faculties inherent in the male-female complementarity of God's design. The Church teaches that the homosexual orientation is intrinsically disordered. (If you dispute that the Church teaches this, ask Sr. Grammick and Fr. Nugent how they got in so much trouble with the Vatican a few years back.) Homosexual acts are rooted in a disordered love. The degree of the disordered nature of this love is illustrated by the fact that homosexual acts distort and violate the created order through unnatural means of sexual expression that are incapable of being truly unitive because they are inherently incapable of fecundity. This is the teaching of the Church. The Catechism is extremely clear when it deals with the morality of homosexual acts: "They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved." (CCC, #2357)

Why then did you not exercise your duty as our bishop and defend this teaching? Why did you allow Fr. Rod Stephens to openly challenge it through his chosen lifestyle?

Fr. Cesar Salazar, Pedophilia, & Homosexuality (Again)

Why did you continue to protect and defend Fr. Cesar Salazar when you knew he was looking at pornographic pictures of young boys and young men on his computer?

See: Diocese breaks zero tolerance vow, Orange County Register, July 20, 2003, http://blogs.ocregister.com/orangepunch/archives/2006/03/diocese_zero_tolerance_for_tra.html

See also: No Vow Of Silence Here, OC Weekly, Dec. 26, 2003 — Jan. 1, 2004, http://www.ocweekly.com/columns/ex-cathedra/no-vow-of-silence-here/20409/

Why did Fr. Salazar remain assigned to a parish with a school when he was already known to be feeding an unhealthy sexual appetite with a kind of pornography that is understood as deviant even in the mainstream of our oversexed culture? Only after your duplicity was exposed did you choose to act. Yet you continued to attempt to posture yourself as concerned about the faithful in this time of crisis.

Persecution Of Traditional Catholics

We are fast approaching the two year anniversary of your removal of the Tridentine Mass from St. Mary's by the Sea (http://www.uvoc.org/end_of_the_mass.htm) in the name of unity, arbitrarily forcing the faithful to travel an extra 28 miles across the county to the overcrowded Tridentine Mass at Mission San Juan Capistrano's small, cramped chapel, and despite a petition from over 1,200 parishioners pleading with you not to do so.

Difficult To Get?

When you initially denied Catholics at St. Mary's by the Sea the ability to worship at the Tridentine Mass, Fr. Fenton told the OC Register, "Fr. Johnson had a personal permission to celebrate the Tridentine Mass at St. Mary's. They're not that easy to get."

What Is Truth?

It should be noted that it is patently false that permission to have the Tridentine Mass is difficult to obtain. Permission to celebrate the Tridentine Mass as well as the selection for the location of such celebrations is completely at the discretion of the local ordinary (in this case, you, Bishop Brown). It is not necessary for local Church officials to petition the Holy See for special privileges to celebrate the Tridentine Mass. You can simply grant your permission for priests to continue to celebrate the Tridentine at St. Mary's by the Sea parish at 12:00 P.M. on Sundays as they had for twelve years.

We invite you to provide evidence of the need for special approval from the Holy See, using Church documents to back up this claim.

Your secretary, Rev. J. Michael McKiernan's form letter sent to many of the people who wrote you asking you to continue to allow the celebration of the Tridentine Mass at St. Mary's was inaccurate. The permission didn't "retire" with Fr. Johnson. The permission ended because you, Bishop Brown, were unwilling to exercise your authority to extend it. You appear to have opportunistically used Fr. Johnson's retirement as an excuse to end the permission to celebrate the Tridentine Mass at St. Mary's by the Sea.

Fr. McKiernan's claim that outsiders would be required for the continued celebration of the Tridentine Mass at St. Mary's by the Sea is also inaccurate. The Norbertine priests at St. Michael's Abbey here in the Diocese of Orange are quite capable of supplying priests for the celebration of the Tridentine Mass. Norbertine priests have said the Tridentine Mass at St. Mary's many times, as have other priests during Fr. Johnson's vacations and due to his later health problems.

Those Who Wish To Worship At The Ancient Mass Are Not Accommodated

So, despite hundreds of letters and 1,200 signatures on a petition, the Tridentine Mass remains forbidden at St. Mary's by the Sea, forcing devotees to drive to the overcrowded Serra Chapel at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, where it is still officially sanctioned. In the Diocese of Orange, we now have one remaining indult Mass location, serving a diocese of over 1,044,191 Catholics in a county of 2,760,948 people. The Tridentine Mass at that location is only offered at 8:00 A.M. on Sundays and non-transferred Holy Days, is attended by 300+ persons every Sunday, and 450+ on the first Sunday of every month. The Serra Chapel is designed to hold approximately 120 persons. Many of these people drive from as far as 50 miles away. The Mass is at 8:00 AM, and they should plan to arrive up to 45 minutes early if they plan to get a seat!

Does that sound pastoral? Does it sound like a "wide and generous application of the directives issued by the Apostolic See for the use of the Roman Missal of 1962"? Or does it sound like an attempt to discourage attendance at the Tridentine Mass?

After the cancellation of the Tridentine Mass at Saint Mary's, many of the Tridentine's attending parishioners left for an independent chapel, Our Lady Help Of Christians (http://www.olhc.us), which is located in Garden Grove.

We link Discovering Discipline: For Believing Catholics Only by Thomas A. Droleskey, http://www.christorchaos.com/DiscoveringDisciplineForBelievingCatholicsOnly.htm as an example of the division that has been caused by the abolition of the Tridentine Mass at St. Mary's.

Mr. Drolesky's article underscores the need for you, Bishop Brown, to more generously apply the Vatican instruction to allow the wide and generous application of the ancient Mass. It can only be seen as pastorally insensitive not to do so. You should lovingly welcome Catholics at Our Lady Help Of Christians back into the diocese by allowing the Tridentine at St. Mary's again (as the church is constructed for the Tridentine, with an altar rail, which other parishes do not have). How can it be pastorally sensitive to write off the 800 Catholics who attend Mass at Our Lady Help Of Christians?

Diversity For All (Except Traditional Catholics)

Since revoking permission for the Tridentine Mass at St. Mary's by the Sea, while demanding liturgical conformity by denying the diversity of worship at the ancient, reverent Tridentine Rite Mass to hundreds of your flock in North Orange County, and callously ignoring hundreds of letters and a petition signed by 1,200 of them, you have nevertheless:

  • Allowed liturgical dance, which is prohibited in the Western Church, to continue in this diocese in the name of diversity. Here are photographs of you, Bishop Tod Brown, at Mass with liturgical dancers (scroll down on the web page to view the photos with the dancing girls): http://members.dslextreme.com/users/stangelamerici/FrBillStory.htm;

  • Allowed violations of Redemptionis Sacramentum to continue within the diocese, sometimes committing such violations directly:

    "Never to be used for containing the Blood of the Lord are flagons, bowls, or other vessels that are not fully in accord with the established norms...Reprobated, therefore, is any practice of using for the celebration of Mass common vessels, or others lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit or which are mere containers, as also other vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily." — Redemptionis Sacramentum, On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided 
regarding the Most Holy Eucharist, Congregation For Divine Worship And The Discipline Of The Sacraments, March 25, 2004;

  • Approved of radical liturgical experimentation at Mass in parishes by the avant-garde "Neocatechumenate Movement" in the name of diversity;

  • Allowed other religious denominations to use parish churches for non-Catholic functions in the name of diversity;

  • Sanctioned rock oriented teen Masses as well as Life Teen masses that often include questionable liturgical innovations prohibited by the Holy See in the name of diversity;

  • Hailed the admission of an openly homosexual couple living in a domestic partnership at St. John the Baptist parish in Costa Mesa as adoptive parents and encouraging the community's acceptance of this lifestyle, proclaiming it part of a "diversity policy";

On Thursday, January 25, 2001, you gathered with leaders from three Christian denominations at Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano for an ecumenical prayer service, according to the Los Angeles Times. Episcopal bishop J. Jon Bruno, Lutheran bishop Murray Finck, Presbyterian elder Jane Odel, and you, Bishop Brown, each led a part of the service in which a crowd of 500, including 40 clergymen and clergywomen, participated. The service included a choir composed of the members of five churches and liturgical dancers moving interpretively in the aisles.

See: The Close of Christian Unity Week, Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, March 2001, http://www.losangelesmission.com/ed/news/0301news.htm

We include here a picture taken at that event:

Why don't you extend the same welcoming embrace to the 800 Catholics who worship at Our Lady Help of Christians?

Bishop Brown, you have publicly opposed laws that seek to prevent homosexuality from gaining special protection and bent over backwards to appear tolerant and accepting of homosexuals. Why can't you show the same tolerance, acceptance, and charity for traditional Catholics and Catholics who practice traditional expressions of Catholic piety such as kneeling to receive Holy Communion? Charity begins at home, Bishop Brown.

More Persecution For Traditional Catholics

While all the above mentioned "anomalies" which are clearly prohibited by the norms of the Universal Church, continue with your apparent blessing or disinterest, you decided to again clamp down on the Catholics you apparently perceive to be the real villains — by using Fr. Johnson's retirement and subsequent replacement to take further steps to micromanage liturgical worship at none other than, little St. Mary's by the Sea church, and in the name of bringing the parish "in line" with the Second Vatican council, alienated literally hundreds of Catholics in the diocese by removing permission for the Tridentine Mass at St. Mary's by the Sea, explicitly prohibiting kneeling for the reception of Holy Communion at St. Mary's (and later recanting because such prohibitions are clearly not allowed) insisting that parishioners remain standing after the Agnus Dei, insisting on the introduction of the sign of peace (which is liturgically optional), the introduction of altar girls, and the reception of Holy Communion under both species at all Masses. It is apparently of little importance to you that over 80% of the parishioners chose to call St. Mary's their home precisely because of its emphasis on communal acts of reverence (such as the reception of Holy Communion while kneeling at the Communion rail) during Mass.

Your micromanagement of St. Mary's by the Sea parish, and your "invitation" for kneeling parishioners to leave the parish and the diocese (through parish administrator, Fr. Martin Tran) has been well documented:

The Orange County Register blog:

Liberal 'tolerance' at Diocese of Orange:
http://blogs.ocregister.com/orangepunch/archives/2006/03/liberal_tolerance_at_diocese_o.html

Is kneeling before Jesus a mortal sin in the Diocese of Orange?:
http://blogs.ocregister.com/orangepunch/archives/2006/03/is_kneeling_before_jesus_a_mor.html

Mass expulsions at Diocese of Orange:
http://blogs.ocregister.com/orangepunch/archives/2006/03/mass_explusions_at_diocese_of.html

Canon Law Society of America: St. Mary's parishioners are not

excommunicated:

http://blogs.ocregister.com/orangepunch/archives/2006/03/canon_law_society_of_america_s.html

Another Canon lawyer on the St. Mary's situation:
http://blogs.ocregister.com/orangepunch/archives/2006/03/another_canon_lawyer_on_the_st.html

Getting dumped at St. Mary's:
http://blogs.ocregister.com/orangepunch/archives/2006/03/getting_dumped_at_st_marys.html

Diocese: zero tolerance for traditional Catholics:
http://blogs.ocregister.com/orangepunch/archives/2006/03/diocese_zero_tolerance_for_tra.html

The Bettnet.com blog:

Mass expulsion of Catholics from parish in California:
http://www.bettnet.com/blog/index.php/weblog/comments/mass_expulsion_of_catholics_from_parish_in_california/

The flier from Orange County:
http://www.bettnet.com/blog/index.php/weblog/comments/the_flier_from_orange_county

Latest from Orange diocese:
http://www.bettnet.com/blog/index.php/weblog/comments/latest_from_orange_diocese/

The Cafeteria Is Closed blog:

Too Proud To Kneel?:

http://closedcafeteria.blogspot.com/2006/03/too-proud-to-kneel.html

Straight From The OC:
http://closedcafeteria.blogspot.com/2006/03/straight-from-oc.html

It seems odd that you are upset about people kneeling before Jesus when so many strange things have occurred under your administration. Perhaps the strangest was in June 2004 at a Mass celebrating renovations at San Juan Capistrano:

    Jerry Nieblas and Kathy Sandoval performed a Juaneρo blessing — the sacred Four Directions ceremony — during the Mass.

    Carrying an abalone shell filled with burning white sage, Nieblas pointed to the four directions as Sandoval, wearing a willow bark skirt, fanned the smoke with red-tail hawk feathers and prayed.

    "We honor the creator, our homeland and ancestors and ask them to pray for us and to be with us on this day," said Nieblas, artifacts coordinator at the mission. (A Mission To Honor The Past, Orange County Register, July 29, 2004, http://www.ocregister.com/ocr/2004/07/29/sections/local/local/article_183829.php)

Apparently, as far as you, our bishop, are concerned, pagan ceremonies during the middle of Mass are okay, but kneeling before Jesus isn't.

We plead with you to either be consistent with your call for diversity, or at least, in the spirit of truth in advertising, amend theses no. 4 of your "Covenant With The Faithful" to read, "We will only work collaboratively with all members of the Diocese who happen to agree with Cardinal Mahony's and my view of the "American" Catholic Church to promote an atmosphere of openness and trust, and empower them as partners in parochial affairs and thereby create a new era for our Church in Orange County."

Pope Benedict XVI, had this to say about the Traditional Latin Mass:

    "I am of the opinion that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It is impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it declares that what was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent." — Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, (From his book) "Salt Of The Earth", Ignatius Press, 1997

Bishop Tod Brown Emulates Martin Luther For Public Relations

We are also infuriated that you hired a public relations firm at a cost to the diocese of $90,000.00 that advised you to emulate Martin Luther, while promulgating your "Covenant with the Faithful" (http://www.rcbo.org/covenant/covenant_to_faithful.htm) by nailing the covenant to the door of your cathedral. You then called on the faithful to make reparation for a problem your actions and deliberate inaction have fomented. You obviously hired this firm in the hopes of currying public favor. Could it be that you did so out of fear that all the negative press your actions had received would have only served to taint the jury pool in the many impending lawsuits the scandals had brought our diocese? To the dismay of many Catholics, you persisted in acting as though the scandals arose in a vacuum and that the way to deal with them was by means of good public relations.

See: Bishop Brown Confuses Penance and Public Relations, Orange County Register, January 25, 2004, http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2004_01_06/2004_01_25_Greenhut_BishopBrown.htm

See also: Article about The Covenant with the Faithful, http://www.rcbo.org/covenant/covenant.htm

Photographs from Covenant Celebration, http://www.rcbo.org/covenant/covenant_photos.htm

We are not interested in public relations. We are interested in the salvation of souls. We want priests and bishops whose primary focus is offering the Holy Sacrifice Of The Mass and fostering love for the Holy Eucharist. The Church teaches that the Holy Eucharist is the sacrament toward which all the other sacraments are directed. We expect the policies of this diocese to reflect that teaching. We also need priests and bishops who respect the Church's teaching about sin and who make forgiving sins in the sacrament of Reconciliation a priority. We need priests and bishops who teach and preach the truth and by so doing lead souls to heaven. The solution to these problems is not a slick public relations campaign, Bishop Brown. The only authentic solution is fidelity to Christ, faithfully safeguarding and transmitting the teachings of the Church, and remembering why we are Catholic in the first place. There is an ongoing battle for the soul of the Church. Which side are you on, Bishop Brown?

Ezekiel 34:2-10, Matthew 5:13, & Luke 12:39-48

Bishop Brown, your actions speak so loudly we can't hear what you are saying. Our Lord said that a hireling runs when the wolf comes because he is concerned only for himself and his pay. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for His sheep. Your actions reflect the conduct of a hireling.

In your "Covenant with the Faithful" you said that you were going to "lead the rededication of the Diocese of Orange as an Ambassador of God's love that cares about the welfare of the entire county, especially the disenfranchised and the poor." We want to ask you if you could tell us with clarity how you intend to do that?

We can offer you some suggestions that we doubt would displease anyone:

No More Public Relations Campaigns

You can stop wasting the money that we, the donors, give to the Diocese of Orange through our parishes and PSA program on public relations firms. You did not get our money's worth and we believe that we, through the diocese, are due a refund from this firm for damages to the reputation of our diocese.

Fly Coach

Another way you can fulfill your pledge is by opting to fly coach as Bishop McFarland used to do when he headed the diocese. The $1,500 that you will save on a trip from John Wayne Airport or LAX to Washington D.C. would go a long way in helping a needy family. When you deprive yourself of the luxuries of first class during a flight, you can always offer it up in an act of reparation for the sins of the priests who have been perpetrators of sexual abuse here in the diocese.

Lose The Gourmet Chefs

You could also demonstrate your good will by no longer retaining the services of your personal chefs. There are reports that you have for some time engaged the services of a chef from the five star Five Crowns restaurant in Corona del Mar, as well as a personal sushi chef. We've heard rumors of an Italian food chef as well. Are such things necessary, Bishop Brown?

No More Luxury Housing

We can guarantee you that you would truly demonstrate good intentions if you were to sell your home at Darmel Place, which is considered a mansion by the standards of your disfranchised faithful in the diocese. Do you think the faithful are well served when their spiritual shepherd lives like a televangelist, instead of a humble servant of God? What example of humility are you setting for your priests and brother bishops? Did Jesus make an exception for his apostles and their successors when he said, "he who humbles himself shall be exalted"? According to the public records, you purchased this property back in August of 1998 for $388,000, all cash. Based on current market conditions, the additions and the whole remodeling that county records indicate you have made to the property since said purchase, that you could easily sell this property for at least $1,500,000. That is a profit of $1,112,000.

During his tenure, Bishop McFarland lived in a house on the cathedral property near the rectory of Holy Family Cathedral. He lives there to this day. When Cardinal George was appointed Archbishop of Chicago he donated the use of the mansion previously owned by Cardinal Bernardin. Cardinal O'Malley did something similar in Boston, and so did Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke in Saint Louis and Bishop Thomas Olmsted in Phoenix. These prudent shepherds did this because they could not, in good conscience, live such luxurious lifestyles. They went back to live at their respective cathedrals, the true home of a bishop. These actions were a great moral and spiritual boost to the faithful in those beleaguered archdioceses and dioceses. In times like these, when the public image of bishops, in general, is at an all time low, actions such as these would at least help to ease the current sentiment in our diocese. Yet with your new cathedral project and plans to build a new home, you seem to be moving in another direction. Your lifestyle, and the lifestyles of some of the priests in your diocese have been chronicled in the media as one of excess and comfort to the embarrassment of Catholics throughout the diocese. See: OC Weekly, September 17–23, 2004, Lifestyles of the Rich and Pious: http://www.ocweekly.com/columns/ex-cathedra/lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-pious/19586 & Room at the Inns: http://www.ocweekly.com/columns/ex-cathedra/room-at-the-inns/19585

Stop The Liberal Nonsense And Promote Priests Who Are Theologically Orthodox To Positions Of Authority

Bishop Brown, why do you insist on promoting and enabling a foolish agenda of liberal infidelity? Look what it has gotten us! We have reaped shame and denigration, as well as the loss of millions of dollars in hard-earned money donated by Catholics in good faith, never dreaming it would be used to make reparation for the actions of sexually deviant priests (like those you have hidden). An internal church document obtained by the Orange County Weekly shows the Orange diocese accepted the $100 million settlement not to, as you told the faithful, spare victims from "years of emotionally difficult litigation," but because Church officials knew a civil court would "return devastating jury verdicts against the diocese." (OC Weekly, The "All-Spin" Zone, January 14–20, 2005, http://www.ocweekly.com/columns/ex-cathedra/the-all-spin-zone/15106)

The fact that you are wasting more money to the tune of additional millions on a new cathedral for yourself and a new mansion near the new cathedral only adds to our distaste for your leadership:

    Last month, the Weekly revealed that the Diocese of Orange is aggressively moving forward on plans to build a multimillion-dollar cathedral — despite facing about 100 sex-abuse lawsuits [see "Christ Our Non-Saver," July 23]. Now sources say the diocese is negotiating with Brea-based Shea Homes for a new multimillion-dollar home near the proposed cathedral site.

    The home's first occupant: Bishop Tod D. Brown.

    The residence is one of 156 homes under construction at the Armstrong Ranch, a gated community in Santa Ana's South Coast Metro, near the 90-acre property where Christ Our Savior Cathedral will stand. Brochures for Armstrong Ranch show that the humblest housing option — what Shea Homes refers to as its "Flotman Residence" — includes two stories, four bedrooms, three and a half baths, a breakfast nook, an office, a butler's pantry, and a three-car garage. Starting price: $1.1 million.

    Armstrong Ranch sales representatives aren't shy about the connection. One bragged to a Weekly researcher that the bishop is already in escrow.

    This isn't the first time Brown has spent church funds to upgrade his pad. His current 3,800-square-foot manse in eastern Santa Ana includes 11 rooms, three bathrooms, a three-car garage and a solar-heated swimming pool. Officials purchased the property for $388,000 shortly before Brown ascended to the Orange bishopric in the fall of 1998. County documents show that subsequent improvements added $117,271 in value to the property, improvements that included interior remodeling; the conversion of part of the three-car garage into a laundry, bath and pantry; and a lattice-covered patio. But the crown to Brown's house was the addition of a second floor in early 2001 — the year Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray ordered the diocese to pay DiMaria $5.2 million for Monsignor Michael Harris' alleged molestation. (Movin' on Up: Bishop Brown to leave half-million-dollar shack for million-dollar estate, by Gustavo Arellano, Orange County Weekly, Thursday, August 12, 2004, http://www.ocweekly.com/columns/ex-cathedra/movin-on-up/19693)

All the while you neglect your duties as shepherd by promoting dissent from Church teaching through your diocesan appointments and your negligent leadership. Catechesis in this diocese is a disaster.

See: "Theology In Wonderland," Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, December 2000: http://www.losangelesmission.com/ed/articles/2000/1200cc.htm

See also: "It's Just A Pumpkin," Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission, January 2001: http://www.losangelesmission.com/ed/articles/2001/0101bd.htm

Catholics are ignorant of their faith and non-practicing Catholics are the second largest group of professed Christians in this country. Yet you act as though you believe the way to increase fidelity is to renovate churches, hide tabernacles, forbid kneeling and appoint dissidents who actively distort and dissemble the faith to positions of leadership in our diocese!

St. John Chrysostom

St. John Chrysostom once said, "The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their sign posts." That is not our hope for you, Bishop Brown. We care deeply about you and are concerned for your welfare, both in this life and in eternity. We hope you realize the serious responsibility you have before God because of your office as our bishop. It is our prayer that you will turn and be converted to fidelity to Christ and His Church and use your authority to build up the Church by removing from our own diocese the growing cancer which seeks to destroy it. Until that happens, the most charitable thing we can think is that we hope, for the sake of your own immortal soul, that you don't really know what you are doing. However, as long as you keep doing it, we will continue to know what you are, and we will still be watching, reporting all we see to Rome and the media.

With our continued prayers,

Concerned Catholics of the Diocese of Orange

Fernando & Isabel Guido

David & Mary Tripoli

Manuel & Josefina Ruiz

Rick & Teri Carpentier

Diane Miller

Bill & Cynthia Mariner

Daniel & Joy Paulson

Peter & Gloria Balaska

Danny & Regan Carpentier

Charles & Brigit Johnson

Michael Tripoli

Michael & Susan Teissere

Kevin Holt

Steve & Lisa Zar

Sean McDermott

Rudy & Cathy Riegler

Ernesto & Linda Acosta-Galvan

Danny & Stacy Esparza

Michael and Kathleen Kramer

David Campatelli

© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He has been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR and WLS-TV in Chicago, and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.

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