Matt C. Abbott
May 17, 2006
Bishop Wuerl's appointment cause for concern?
By Matt C. Abbott

Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh has been appointed the new archbishop of Washington, succeeding Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

The following article was provided to me by Randy Engel, author of the forthcoming book The Rite of Sodomy. It originally appeared in the summer 1996 issue of the Mothers' Watch newsletter.

Bishop Wuerl's "Magnificent Obsession"

In February 1988, Pittsburgh Catholics looked forward to the appointment of Donald Wuerl as the 11th Bishop of this ethnically-rich, traditionally-based community. This former "blue-collar" town had longed for a return to the roots of its Catholic heritage which was already being subtly but persistently overtaken by the modernist establishment. But instead of the situation getting better, things got worse.

In the Catholic schools and CCD programs, the message of salvation runs secondary to the "social gospel." Catechists are educated in the latest innovative theories taught by education "experts" and children, for the most part, have no foundation in authentic catechesis.

Some members of the clergy seem to regard their vocation as a nine to five. job, while other priests appear so overburdened with responsibilities and concerns about meeting financial obligations in their parishes, such as paying the diocesan tax, "Parish Share," that they have little time for evangelization. Some priests are hesitant to speak out on critically important moral issues such as abortion, contraception, pre-marital sex, adultery and homosexuality, perhaps out of fear of diocesan censure.

For years, Catholic parents have trusted that others would aid them in fostering religious education for their children and naturally turned to parochial schools for support. More and more of these same parents have come to the realization that the majority of Catholic schools are "Catholic" in name only and in fact, can be more detrimental to the spiritual lives of their children than some of the public schools!

In this age of false ecumenism, children have little concept of the major differences existing between Catholicism and other religions. In March of 1964, Pittsburgh Bishop John Wright established the Ecumenical Commission and, years later, the "fruits" of this effort were manifested.

A look at the 1987-1988 CCD catalog on courses and catechists provides valuable insight into the reality of this pernicious attack on the Faith. Listed under a profile of "Master Catechists" (trainers of diocesan school teachers) were: Sr. Rita Harasiuk, RSM, a follower of the same "Creation-Centered Spirituality" promoted by former Dominican priest, Matthew Fox. Fr. Fox worked with a woman named Starhawk, a self professed witch. He was silenced by the Vatican and has since left the Church to join a Protestant denomination. On numerous occasions, Matthew Fox was a guest on "Amplify," an ecumenical radio program hosted by diocesan spokesman, Fr. Ron Lengwin.

Susan Mink
included in the diocesan directory of catechists, was identified as a member of Women/Church and the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). Theresa Orlando, also a Women/Church member served as "consultant" for Sadlier Publishing Company, a major publisher of "religion" texts.

Sr. Marguerite Kropinak, CSJ, not only worked as a Master Catechist but also served as chaplain of the homosexual group, Dignity. She was also the National Coordinator of SIGMA (Sisters in Gay Ministry Associated). Sr. Kropinak co-authored (with Matthew Fox, Jeannine Gramick and others) A Challenge to Love Gay and Lesbian Catholics in the Church. She was also credited with match-making couples in Dignity. She now serves as Parish Social Ministry Director of Catholic Charities.

Rev. Garrett Dorsey, Master Catechist, is a member of the Association of Pittsburgh Priests (APP), an organization which openly dissents from Church teaching. Other diocesan approved Master Catechists were pastors of Protestant churches and non-Christians an Iman from an Islamic church, a rabbi, the chairperson from the Baha'i Spiritual Assembly and a teacher of Buddhism and Hinduism.

Catholic school students fare no better than the CCD students in being catechized in the Faith. Faulty "religion" texts subtly undermine authentic instruction with the implementation of catechesis which either deletes or distorts Catholic teachings. Scripture is frequently referred to as mythical stories. Students are taught that there was no Adam and Eve. A catechist was heard to say that "Jesus did not know He was the Son of God until after the Resurrection." As a result, Catholic youth are graduating from Pittsburgh parochial schools without the basic truths of the Church and many have lost their Faith.

The March 12, 1989, Pittsburgh Press article, "Spirituality Is His Specialty" provided a somewhat clearer insight into Bishop Wuerl. It stated that the Bishop wanted the respect of the people but didn't want them to be "intimidated by his rank," and that it bothered him when people were "too awed to laugh at his jokes." The article mentioned that Bishop Wuerl was supposedly "feared as a reputed Roman enforcer who might not care on whom he stepped...[but he has since] allayed many fears. The intelligent, energetic and engaging bishop appears, at least tentatively, to have won over many of those who were prepared to write him off as a clone from Rome." (It was the faithful who had much to fear.)

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

While winning the hearts of the liberal faction, Bishop Wuerl ran roughshod over the faithful and the parishes they and their families had built. Bishop Wuerl had managed to cut a million dollars from the operating budget his first year and his concepts for the consolidation of schools and parishes became the "model for bishops facing similar problems nationwide."

While the reporter, Ann Rodgers-Melnick, in the March 12, 1989 article enthused over the bishop's controversial closing of parishes and schools, Pittsburgh Catholics found themselves at the mercy of the diocesan machine as it moved full throttle over the heartfelt concerns of the laity who were stunned at the numerous closings and mergings of churches into "worship sites," including the financially and spiritually sound parishes.

The usual "blarney" about consultation with the laity, who for the most part saw it as a "done deal," was published in the local Catholic paper, which ranted on and on, inferring that the suffering Catholics were disobedient and causing disunity when they felt their spiritual world crumbling. Uppermost in the minds of many were concerns about the losses of Mass availability, ethnicity, and the sense of community. The allowance, by the diocese, of "polka Masses," and the parading of Catholics in ethnic costumes in the Civic Arena was apparently an attempt to show "respect" for the many heritages represented in Pittsburgh's Catholic community.

The diocese attempted to give the appearance of cooperation and harmony toward the people, but the laity felt betrayed and disillusioned by the strong-arm tactics employed under Bishop's Wuerl's rule. Many elderly Catholics were no longer able to continue their custom of attending daily Mass due to limitations set by the distance to the nearest church, since their "worship site" may or may not have a scheduled daily Mass.

Money from one parish, totaling three million dollars, donated by hard working parishioners, was confiscated by the diocese. This was only one instance of what is thought to be an enormous amount of money ending up in diocesan coffers from parish accounts and property sales. The diocese claims the money will be returned to the merged parishes, but many of Pittsburgh's Catholics do not believe that and wonder about the total sum of money taken in, diocesan-wide. Having no where else to turn, some displaced members of parishes are suing Bishop Wuerl in civil court for closing their parishes.

Other parishioners have watched helplessly as pastors spent large sums of parish money on unwelcome "renovations" such as the installation of "immersion pools" for baptisms, and the removal of tabernacles from places of prominence to hidden positions.

One pastor, a Mass celebrant for the homosexual group, Dignity, renovated his church by painting it a light lavender and draping it with banners throughout.

Going, Going, Sold!

An article in the Allegheny Bulletin (11-4-92) "Catholics to Sell or Convert Closed Churches" speculated that "closed churches may become places of business, social service centers or museums...if the parish can't use the church, the most obvious way to dispose of the property would be to sell it to a non-Catholic congregation."

The Redemptorist Order was forced to sell the historic site of St. Philomena Parish where St. John Neumann, regarded as "the Father of the Parochial School System" served as pastor from 1844-1847, "when the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh indicated that it intended to close St. Philomena Parish, effective June 30 because of the parish's $370,000 debt to the diocese." The parish members did not owe this "debt" for expenses of the day- to-day operations of their church. They simply owed the diocesan tax.

The site was sold to the Jewish community and used for an elementary school. Obviously, the historical significance of the property had little meaning for the diocese, but the ultimate insult came when the site was used for the production of the Sharon Stone movie, "Diabolique" in the fall of 1995. The June 1996 issue of Catalyst published by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights describes "Diabolique" as follows: "In the original film, which was released in 1954, there was no nudity, vulgarity, gore or anti-Catholicism. The latest version has it all....This just goes to show that when Hollywood addresses Catholicism in the 1990's it will go out of its way to offend Catholics. There is no other way to understand the content differences between the original and the remake of DIABOLIQUE."

Another example of the lengths the Pittsburgh diocese will go to turn a profit was the selling of St. John the Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, built in 1907. The Church is used as a "brewpub," a brewery and restaurant. Stained glass windows and support columns will remain intact and pews will be cut down and used for seating. "On the former altar, behind a 10 foot wall of clear glass, will stand stainless steel kettles used for making the beer."

This is in direct opposition to the Holy Father who has taken a strong stand against the destruction of parishes. The Pope asked "bishops to strengthen parish life in their dioceses," saying 'See to it that the parish remains alive and the believers have contacts they can count on. Despite the problems caused by the lack of priests, established structures should not be destroyed if possible and smaller communities should not suffer deprivation because of centralization.'"

Among Church properties on Bishop Wuerl's hit list are diocesan Catholic schools. Members of Resurrection Parish took to the streets to protest the sale of their school. Protesters carried signs reading: "Czar Wuerl & Czar Kozar [pastor] Killed Catholic Education."

Our Sunday Visitor, which has published Bishop Wuerl's work in the past and is slated to soon publish his sex program, ironically promoted Bishop Wuerl in their newspaper as "a man who has a 'magnificent obsession' with Catholic education... [January 3, 1993.]" Two other schools are also scheduled to be closed, Our Lady of Loreto and St. Pius X.

The Company Bishop Wuerl Keeps

To further illustrate the attitude of the Pittsburgh diocesan bureaucrats toward church property, consider the July 12, 1994 North Hills Record article, "Masons Receive Approval For New Headquarters in Ross," by Ben Rand. The Masonic Fund Society of Allegheny County "will build a headquarters on eight to ten acres of property owned [emphasis added] by the North Side Catholic Cemetery." The Masons (longtime enemy of the Catholic Church) wanted to relocate from their former home in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh "in an attempt to rebuild its membership...to make it more convenient for its members, but the goal is not just to move. The goal is to revitalize..." There was no mention of selling the land to the Masons, in fact, the only mention of money was a contribution..."to act as a good neighbor and to help speed approval, the Masonic Fund agreed to contribute $15,000 toward a traffic signal at Cemetery Lane and Babcock Boulevard."

Contrast this with the warning by Lincoln, Nebraska's Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz to excommunicate Catholics who do not discontinue their membership in the Masons and other organizations such as the abortion supportive "Catholics for a Free Choice."

Rather than support the courageous move by Bishop Bruskewitz, Pittsburgh diocese's chief canon lawyer, Fr. Lawrence DiNardo responded by calling it "a relatively extreme measure..." Fr. DiNardo also seemed to have difficulty accepting the Primacy of the Holy Father at a session on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, September 16, 1995 when he stated: "...if a person says 'I accept the teachings of the Pope, but I don't accept the teachings of my bishop,' they are not Catholic. They are in heresy. They are excommunicated by law..." He said when people say they believe in the Pope, that they 'don't like what bishop so-and-so did'...I say, well then, you ain't Catholic...that's not part of our doctrine, whether you believe in the Pope. You don't need to believe in the Pope. Only Bishops need to believe in the Pope. You need to accept the teaching authority of the Bishop..."

The 3/31/96 article (on Bishop Bruskewitz's warning) continues in response to "Catholic legislators who support legal abortion, the [Pittsburgh] diocese has favored dialogue over damnation. 'We would rather convince people of the truth of the church's position than take some more severe course of action' said the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, spokesman for the diocese, who has met with some of the politicians."

Bishop Wuerl as "Liberal"

When appointed as Bishop on February 11, 1988, Donald Wuerl did not want to be identified as a conservative and said: "Give me a chance to do some things and let the people decide." One of the "things" Bishop Wuerl decided to do was "to open the lines of communication" with the Association of Pittsburgh Priests (APP) which is in constant opposition to the Vatican on matters such as the ordination of women, homosexuality and married clergy. APP members also signed the 1990 "Call for Reform in the Catholic Church" initiated by "Call to Action" and co-sponsored by the "Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church, Catholics Speak Out, CORPUS, Friends of Creation Spirituality, Inc. and the Women's Ordination Conference." This document was published in the New York Times (2-28-90) and other major newspapers.

Bishop Bevilacqua, Bishop Wuerl's predecessor, said he saw "no reason for the APP to exist." This was quoted from "The Association of Pittsburgh Priests A Brief History" by Francis F. Brown in 1987. Fr. Brown was "instrumental in the formation of the National Federation of Priests Councils (NFPC), and in 1979 published a history of the NFPC entitled Priests in Council Initiatives Toward a Democratic Church" (emphasis added), a Church free from Rome.

The Pittsburgh Press reported that the APP came to Bishop Wuerl's defense when he met with CORPUS, an organization of married priests in June of 1990. This meeting provoked a response from Cardinal Antonio Innocenti of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy who said it was concerned that such a meeting "could lend legitimacy to the demand for a married priesthood." The APP responded: "Just as strongly as we support Bishop Wuerl, we deplore the letter of Cardinal Innocenti....The meeting between the bishop [Wuerl] and the resigned priests is not only the American way, but the Christian way. To put it very simply and we mean these words the Vatican response is un-Christian."

The following day, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, said that although the letter (from the Vatican) was termed "critical" Bishop Wuerl said it was not a reprimand, just a "request for information...[a] routine piece of communication in the church."

More Than Ministering to Homosexuals

For years, the Pittsburgh diocese's association with homosexuals has been of great concern. When the laity learned of the existence of the "Catholic" homosexual group, Dignity, and its usage of two diocesan parishes, St. Elizabeth in the Strip District and St. Pamphilus in the Beechview section, the alarm was sounded throughout the diocese. Bishop Wuerl had previously stated in regard to Dignity: "everyone who is struggling to live by the teachings of Christ and the teachings of the Catholic church is welcome in the Catholic church." However, Dignity had no intention of following the teachings of the Church and said so in its "Statement of Position and Purpose" which reads: "gay men and lesbian women can express their sexuality in a manner that is consonant with Christ's teaching. We believe that we can express our sexuality physically in a unitive manner [emphasis added] that is loving, life giving and life affirming..."

Again, this is contrary to the teachings of the Church which states:

Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is more or less a strong tendency toward an intrinsic evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. Therefore, special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they should be led to believe that the living out of this orientation is a morally acceptable option. It is not ([Letter to the Bishops on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, Article 3].

In addition, the Letter (Article 17) does not permit the use of Catholic facilities for homosexual services because "...it is contradictory to the purpose for which these institutions were founded, it is misleading and often scandalous."

St. Elmo's, a bookstore owned by former Dignity president, Bill Nist, has been permitted to use exhibit tables at diocesan conferences including: a two day conference at Duquesne University (August 10-11, 1990) sponsored by Catholic Charities and the Diocesan Secretariat for Social Concerns, and the 1991 Tri-diocesan Teachers' Conference held in Monroeville.

The homosexual bookstore was also represented at the "Seventh National Congress of the Religious Formation Conference" held at the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel, 10/10-13/91. There were approximately 650 priests and religious in attendance. Not only was St. Elmo's present, but also New Ways Ministry, another homosexual advocacy group and a woman selling feminist greeting cards.

St. Elmo's had been mentioned in the 4-12-91 Pittsburgh Catholic as an outlet for the distribution of "three cassette tapes featuring the praying of the Rosary by Bishop Donald Wuerl." News of this circulated among the laity and eventually the diocese did remove the tapes.

The co-founders of New Ways Ministry, Fr. Robert Nugent and Sr. Jeannine Gramick, conducted the "Homophobia in Religion and Society" workshop at St. Mary's Convent, Carlow College. The major part of the morning session consisted of a video portraying the plight of the "persecuted" homosexual and intimated that of all the people killed in the concentration camps by the Nazis, the homosexuals suffered the most torment. Of course, there were the usual discussion groups afterward. Sr. Gramick bragged that two-thirds of all the dioceses in the U.S. have played host to their traveling seminar.

Even though the laity attempted to convince the diocese to intervene, the conference proceeded as planned; the reason given was that "Wuerl can't cancel the seminar because it's their [the Sisters of Mercy's] property." Carlow's president, Sr. Grace Ann Geibel, in the March 24, 1996 Pittsburgh Press, indicated she was very pleased with Bishop Wuerl and said that he has "no inclination whatsoever to interpret his role as one of an authoritarian."

Isn't it amazing the Bishop didn't "have" the authority to intervene in this instance, but used his authority to close St. Philomena Parish, owned by the Redemptorist Order? Was it because the diocese considers money more important than morality?

The "Fourteenth Annual Pastoral Musicians' Convention" was held 7/9-13/91 at the David Lawrence Convention Center. Not only was Dignity USA an exhibitor, but apparently influential for in the program booklet under "Anointing of the Sick" one reads: "Each hotel will have a quiet place for people who are HIV positive and concerned others to come open their hearts and journey toward wholeness through prayers and rituals."

The theme of the convention was "Singing A New Church." The program booklet says: "NPM [National Association of Pastoral Musicians] is affiliated with the United States Catholic Conference (USCC) and directs itself toward the concerns of the Roman Catholic liturgy. However, some of the NPM members are from sister Churches, especially those with liturgical concerns." Are we talking about Protestant churches? Apparently, not only are we dealing with the issue of homosexuality, but also the prospect of "singing a new church" seemingly with the cooperation of the United States Catholic Bishops! Included in the sessions were people from the "National Center for Pastoral Leadership," (formerly Time Consultants, an organization at odds with the Vatican) and priests and religious from the Pittsburgh diocese.

Listed among the master catechists for the Pittsburgh Diocese, Sr. Marguerite Kropinak's homosexual association was apparent as early as 1983 when, at the Dignity, Inc. International Convention, held in Seattle, Washington (September 2-5, 1983) she "enthused about the Dignity 'hotline' which is installed not only in her convent, but in others in this country..." Sr. Kropinak is with the Sisters of St. Joseph, [who teach in Pittsburgh Catholic schools. ed. n.]

In the February 1991 issue of Profiles (Dignity/Pittsburgh's Newsletter), Sr. Kropinak spoke of the biennial Dignity Convention which she described as "...marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit, alive and active in the gathered community of Dignity. The Dignity Convention is a HOLY [emphasis in original] event." Far from being "holy," the sin of sodomy is listed (Catechism of the Catholic Church, pg. 457) as one of the "sins that cry to heaven," and Scripture tells how the Lord looked at homosexual activity in His destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

It was announced, August 1992, that Sr. Kropinak had been appointed to the position as Pittsburgh Catholic Charities' Parish Social Ministry Director and from all accounts, remains in that role. Remember, she was listed as a master catechist for the Diocese despite her close connection with homosexual groups mentioned throughout this report.

A pamphlet, obtained 4/24/95 from "Gay and Lesbian Alternative Dimensions" (GLAD) in Pittsburgh lists the following as "gay friendly" sponsoring congregations: "American Baptist, Evangelical Lutheran, Jewish, Presbyterian, Quaker, Roman Catholic [emphasis added], Unitarian and United Methodist." It states: "All sponsoring congregations are gay friendly. They do not all share the views of their stated national policies [emphasis added]. Persons who come to GLAD are affirmed for who they are and are not asked to change...GLAD offers another alternative a perspective that validates the spiritual journey of all gays, lesbians and bisexuals one that does not exclude, but affirms their sexuality as part of their spirituality."

The September, 1994 edition of Planet Queer related that "On August 8, the Corpus Christi Residence officially opened its doors as a personal care home for people with AIDS..." The Verona House, a non-profit corporation, "sponsored by the Presbyterian Association on the Aging, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh and four area hospitals; Allegheny General, Mercy Health System, Shadyside and West Penn" was given a long-term lease by the Pittsburgh Diocese for a building at 7165 Churchland Street for a mere $1.00 per year. While it is commendable to help sufferers of AIDS, does the Diocese also charge $1.00 per year for a lease to help other equally needy sick people? Perhaps, if instead of ignoring the major cause in the spread of AIDS (homosexual activity), diocesan authorities would promote the teachings of the Church, the incidence of this disease would dramatically decrease!

Only recently, after the public outcry of Pittsburgh Catholics, which included letters and documentation sent to the Vatican and to Courage, did the Diocese reluctantly stop the sacrilegious Dignity Masses being offered for homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals. An anonymous Dignity coordinator said: "We have nothing negative to say about Bishop Wuerl...it was simply a matter of conflict of conscience." The "banning of Dignity was a sad moment for Wuerl" according to the March 24, 1996 article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Further, the article claims Bishop Wuerl had "started an alternative group for gay Catholics who wanted to be celibate and for eight years tried to persuade Pittsburgh's Dignity to renounce the unorthodox teachings of the national group."

There seems to be a little discrepancy in the time element claimed by the Bishop. The January 30, 1996 issue of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette article "Diocese to Gays: No More Masses" by Ann Rodgers-Melnick says: "...in 1993, the diocese established an alternative group, Courage, for non-heterosexuals who are striving to be celibate." That was three years ago, not eight as the Bishop claims. It has been learned Dignity now uses the Lutheran Center in Oakland for its "Masses" (rumored to be offered by some 30 different diocesan priests. ed.n. ) Is this just another bond in ecumenism?

Ecumenism Replacing Catholicism

Ecumenism seems to be another pet project of Bishop Wuerl. The 7/21/89 issue of the Pittsburgh Catholic, revealed "Bishop Wuerl recently named 18 persons as diocesan representatives to Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania...Christian Associates is a regional ecumenical agency serving 21 Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant church bodies or judicatories...its primary purpose is to provide a channel of cooperation among the judicatories it serves so that common problems can be addressed effectively." But what problems?

An article in the January 23, 1989 Pittsburgh Press, "Breaking Bread Wuerl Wants Denominations to Share Communion," dealt with a meeting between the Bishop Wuerl and six Protestant denominations "to work with the Catholic Church toward the possibility of sharing Communion together...Wuerl stressed that local church leaders have had years of experience working together on social projects through Christian Associates. He called them to move beyond working together to worshipping together at the altar. He contrasted the theological polarization over Communion with the ritual of foot-washing, which does not divide churches." (Comment One of the first actions of the Bishop was the repeal of the ban against women in the foot-washing ritual of Holy Thursday, reversing the ban imposed by Bishop Bevilacqua. This move was greatly appreciated by Pittsburgh Women/Church.)

The succeeding issue of the Pittsburgh Catholic tried to persuade Catholics the preceeding information was not quite accurate, and quotes from a note of correction from the Pittsburgh Press said: "The decision to share communion cannot be made by the local bishops, but must come from the highest level of each church involved."

The April 1995 issue of Ecu-memo, (Christian Associates newsletter ) under "Ecumenical Events" says: "Ministry in the Eastern Christian Context...is the title of a new focus Pittsburgh Theological Seminary will inaugurate in its Doctor of Ministry program this May. Roman Catholic [emphasis added] and Protestant clergy are encouraged to apply. Seminary administrators anticipate the first group of participants in this new ecumenical venture will come from various regions of the United States and Canada." So, in other words, our Catholic priests will be taught "ministry" by Protestants? Wonder what effect this will have on the Mass and Sacraments? Is this a glimpse into the "future church"?

There was a lot made over Fr. Raymond Brown's address to an ecumenical gathering of 450 people, mostly clergy, from Catholic, Episcopalian, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and non-denominational churches on April 3, 1995. While the local church considered Fr. Brown a "world-renowned biblical scholar" there are those who disagree with that assessment, especially considering Fr. Brown's doubts on scriptural accounts on the birth of Christ. Fr. John McKenzie, quoted in "The Battle for the American Church," by Msgr. George A. Kelly, said: "Brown manages to avoid saying there is no historical evidence for the Davidic descent of Jesus, for the birth in Bethlehem or the virginal conception, at the same time affording ample evidence for the perceptive reader to draw this conclusion." Fr. Brown, also is said to have some difficulty with the acceptance of the priesthood in the Church. And yet, Bishop Wuerl, who was in charge of priestly formation, gushed about Fr. Brown's talk: "Don't be surprised if homilies preached on Passion Sunday in various area churches have a similar ring."

Catholic parents, it seems, are in for another rude awakening in our parochial schools as Bishop Wuerl moves steadily along in his push for ecumenism and the removal of our Catholic identity. Bishop Wuerl and leaders of two Protestant churches, signed a "covenant to cooperate on social ministries and other projects in the future" possibly with participation in parish events, and "...in one another's educational ministry...especially the enrollment of students in established schools."

Another source says, "The Catholic, Lutheran and Episcopal bishops of Pittsburgh have signed a covenant of cooperation that could lead to joint parochial schools (emphasis added) and shared facilities." An example of "shar[ing] facilities" was the recent (April 27, 1996) use of St. Paul's Roman Catholic Cathedral for the consecration of Rev. Canon Robert William Duncan as bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese. The April 4, 1996 Tribune Review said: "The procession into St. Paul's will include clergy and lay representatives from each of the 75 congregations in the diocese...thirty other Episcopal bishops are expected to attend the service."

Education: The "Magnificent Obsession"

As mentioned earlier, Our Sunday Visitor portrayed Bishop Wuerl as having a "magnificent obsession with Catholic [emphasis added] education...[he] believes we should start letting people know that we have a magnificent system of schools that has educated children well for generations, bringing them up in the faith with a solid system of values and giving them education that has served them extremely well, as evidenced in the success they have had in their lives."

There is no doubting that graduates of Catholic schools achieve higher academic results than some public schools, but it seems that it may well be the atmosphere of discipline and higher academic expectations that figure strongly in producing the end result. Textbooks used in Pittsburgh's Catholic schools are the same as those used by the public schools, except for "religion" texts, which are watered-down in doctrine.

Educators, many of whom are well-intentioned, have been subjected to "newchurch" philosophies which distort or play down Church teachings. Many teachers seem unaware of the ever-widening gap between authentic teachings and today's modernist concepts which attribute changes to the "spirit" of Vatican II, despite the fact that Vatican II never authorized changes in the basic teachings of the Church.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh is one of twenty-five dioceses which give credit toward catechist certification by attendance at anti-Vatican "education" conferences sponsored by the group formerly known as "Time Consultants, Inc.," and now known as the "National Center for Pastoral Leadership" (NCPL). For over twenty years, the leaders of these organizations have sponsored speakers who "regularly voice their opposition to the current policies of the most powerful religious organization in the world...[who] have been rebuked by the church or forced out of their church-related positions for their criticism of the policies of Pope John Paul II, as well as, more mainstream Catholics who share the same outlook but tend not to attack the church's doctrine so intently."

The NCPL's East Coast Conference for Religious Education held annually in Washington, D.C., apparently enjoys the support of the United States Catholic Conference (USCC) of bishops. The 1990 flier said: "Time Consultants [now NCPL] has offered a variety of ministerial and professional conferences in close collaboration with dioceses, the USCC, national organizations and universities throughout the United States in the areas of religious education, liturgy, youth ministry, women in the church, and the future of the church." Many of today's religious textbook publishers and authors have been associated with these conferences of church dissenters, held in late February or the first weekend in March.

Although Bishop Wuerl was sent extensive documentation about the conferences, he continued to allow diocesan participation. In fact, the late Fr. Frank Sokol, who died in 1992 at age 45, was the diocesan Director for Religious Education, and he spoke at the 1990 East Coast Conference. This was close to a year after the documentation was sent to Bishop Wuerl, who apparently passed the material on to Sokol's office. A letter from Sokol declared: "Please be assured that the good of the whole Church and the faithful teaching of its history and tradition, guide this department in its work." The letter was dated March 17, 1989. Fr. Sokol also served on Bishop Wuerl's Catholic Vision of Love theological subcommittee.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh hosted the "Come to the Water Total Catholic Education Conference," November 3-4, 1995. There was much fanfare for the event which featured Cardinal Pio Laghi (whose name appears on at least one list as a Mason ) as the keynote speaker. The diocese had lined up quite an array of orthodox speakers for the conference, but also included past participants from the NCPL (Time Consultants) lineup Carol Augustine, Greer Gordon, Robert McCarty, Neil Parent, and Pittsburghers Dr. Susan Muto, and Patrick Malloy. Sr. Elizabeth Thoman, whose expertise is "media" related, spoke to the Pittsburgh group and later addressed the "Women's Ordination Conference" the following weekend in Arlington, VA.

Parental Protest

The diocese capitalized on the big names at the "Come to the Water Conference," but little was mentioned about the faithful Catholics who had gathered outside the Convention Center on that bitter cold November day to protest Bishop Wuerl's sex instruction program, Catholic Vision of Love. The diocese apparently sent security personnel outside the building to encourage the demonstrators to leave. When they did not leave, within "five minutes" of the warning, a squad car and "paddy wagon" arrived. A police officer told the demonstrators that "pornographic" material was reportedly being shown by them. The officer looked over the material being distributed by parents consisting of critiques concerning Catholic Vision of Love and other sex ed programs in the Pittsburgh Diocese and determined that the protesters were within their rights to be there, their "God-given rights." The policeman said, "This isn't what they [the Diocese] said was happening here. We don't belong here." He likened the situation to being called "to get a cat out of a tree."

Not only does Pittsburgh have National Center for Pastoral Leadership sympathizers in its midst, but enjoys the "honor" of having two members of its advisory board, here locally. Sr. Joanne Marie Andiorio, RSM President and CEO of Pittsburgh's Mercy Health System and founding president of the National Interfaith Healthcare Leadership Conference. (It is interesting to note, Bishop Wuerl chairs the bishops' Healthcare Committee.)

Also in the company of NCPL is Fr. Thomas Harvey, former pastor of two diocesan parishes, St. Joseph and Immaculate Conception. Father Harvey was involved with the Association of Pittsburgh Priests (APP) in its early years and is past president of Catholic Charities, USA. The October 7, 1994 issue of the Pittsburgh Catholic mentioned Fr. Harvey in two separate articles relating to his NCPL address, September 24, 1994, on the "future of ministry" and a talk he gave to local priests. He was also listed as a "Master Catechist" for the diocese (1994-95). The NCPL and the like are pushing for a "democratic" church which will in no way resemble what the faithful regards as Catholic.

Revising History and Attitudes

Through Multi-Cultural Studies

Another serious element that has invaded Catholic education is "multi-culturalism." The Pittsburgh schools immerse the students in the subject for a whole week. Some high school literature classes select books relating to "politically-correct" cultures and lifestyles American Indian, Afro-American, Hispanic, and other races of color. There is little, if any, reference to European cultures. It seems to reflect a reverse form of discrimination. Feminism and homosexuality are also part of multi-culturalism.

An inordinate amount of emphasis is placed on past injustices and attributed to selected peoples and religious beliefs. They do not relay the message that all cultures have experienced a form of prejudice at one time or another and that they must move on today and not be preoccupied in past iniquities. However, it seems that multi-culturalism curriculum is calculated to instill a division between races while blending religions.

No longer are Catholic missionaries portrayed as courageous messengers of Christ's salvation, but instead are regarded as bullies who set out to destroy native peoples and their cultures. Christian rituals are blended with "Native Spirituality." All religions are depicted as more or less the same.

In an "activity book" for the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the diocese, the authors incorporated under "ecumenism," Christianity, Shinto, Taoism and Judaism with the explanation: "Catholics in Pittsburgh respect and learn [emphasis added] the religious traditions of peoples of many faiths. We pray 'That all may be one during the week for Church unity...'" This booklet is clearly designed for young children, with pages to color and puzzles. Under "words to learn" are global, ecumenism, ministers, laity, etc. (Where are words such as Jesus, Trinity, Catholic, Mary, Rosary, Holy Father, priest, etc.?) Another page displays symbols of non-Christian religions and says: "People believe in God yet express their faith in unique and varied ways. Each symbol above represents a particular religious tradition." Shown were Russian Orthodox, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. While there are Catholic sounding words, one gets the impression that one religion is as good as another.

The Providence Heights Alpha School, operated by the Divine Providence nuns, replaced the Mass with a "Thanksgiving Liturgy," November 24, 1993, according to one parent. The "liturgy" began with a "reading and culture different from our own. The reading come[s] to us from Israel." This reading was followed by a song and then an American Indian prayer set up in responsorial fashion whereby the presider invoked: "Be with us, O Great Spirit God. Show us the way you would have us go." The students were told to face the four directions, East, South, West and North and to call on God to help them conserve the earth's resources. Everyone was to read: "May the air we breathe be purified so that life may be sustained and nurtured over the entire face of the earth." The presider responded: "My spirit is one with you, Great Spirit God. You strengthen me day and night to share my very best with my brothers and sisters. You, whom my people see in all of creation and in all people, show you[r] love for us. Help us to know, like the soaring eagle, the heights of knowledge. From the Four Directions, fill me with the four virtues of fortitude, generosity, respect and wisdom; so that I will help my brothers and sisters in Christ walk in the path of understanding and peace." This was taken from a "Lakota Prayer Tradition." (Please note how "Christ" was inserted to Christianize the Indian prayer.)

An after-school massage anyone? The above was only a sampling of the New Age activities these nuns are engaged in. Yes, the sisters of Divine Providence who run the above school also own and operate the Kearns Spirituality Center conveniently located next door to the school. Housed within the Kearns Center is Sr. Sharon Geibel, a massage therapist who "is available for individual massages " or "back and neck massages for groups." (How many hands does Sister have?) For other "touching" experiences a program entitled "Spirit Bones in Women's Bodies" offered "ritual and gentle body touch and movement." Going on next door to the school are also workshops on the "Enneagram A Number for Everyone" which is a New Age exploration of one's inner self in order for individuals to discover their personality number; sessions featuring an ordained minister certified as a body/mind practitioner; and still another workshop for parents of pre-school children was to include the "God within myself...the world and...my child."

A video, "Circle of the Spirit," listed in the mult-cultural catalog from the diocese (dated 2-12-93) for high school and adult audiences is described as follows:

Circle of the Spirit is a saga of two Northwestern tribes of Native Americans, the Coeur d' alene of Idaho and the Lumi of Washington State. Viewers will experience traditional native dances. Tribal members tell of the coming of the Jesuit "Blackrobes" in 1837 and the tensions that have existed between the acceptance of Christian beliefs and their traditional tribal spirituality. [However, the truth is that the Jesuits were brutalized by the pagan Indians who even ate the hearts of the "Blackrobes."]

While Bishop Wuerl tries to give the impression that he is concerned about Catholic education, parents find him to be isolated and unreachable when trying to communicate their concerns to him. There is little, if any, communication between the Bishop and Catholic parents. People outside of the diocese seem to have the impression that Pittsburgh Catholic schools are firmly rooted in the Faith. Ask informed parents who live in constant fear that Johnny or Jane may lose their faith because of Pittsburgh's Catholic schools or because of what some misguided role model might say in contradiction to the Magisterium. Because Pittsburgh's parochial schools seem to be moving toward regionalization, parents will have an even more difficult time sharing concerns with other parents. The high schools demonstrate how difficult it is to communicate. Think how it will be with other denominations sharing "joint parochial schools."

The Sex Education Bishop

Bishop Wuerl created his own sex ed program, Catholic Vision of Love which has caused quite a commotion and the diocese continues to insist that it is in keeping with the Vatican's recent statement on sex education which upholds parents as "primary educators" of their children.

The Catholic Vision of Love sex program (CVOL) will be all inclusive. A letter sent to "Principals/ Catechetical Administrators/Clergy" from Brian Keane dated January 19, 1995 states "As you are aware, a three year process has been developed, through the 1996-1997 catechetical year, in which all parishes of the diocese will be expected to integrate the Catholic Vision of Love into schools, CCD and special education programs, throughout the diocese...emphasis will be given to parish-wide awareness of the Catholic vision of love and human sexuality through scheduled courses in adult education, homilies, pre-baptismal catechesis and family programs." Further, "Diocesan support will include: 1. continuing education programs for adults; 2. ongoing certification classes for catechists teaching CVOL and 3. continuing education programs in human sexuality/ Catholic morality for priests."

Sex education is a primary focus in Pittsburgh, despite objections from faithful parents. Marriage classes showing various forms of birth control were and are taught in our "Catholic" high schools with assurances from teachers that although the school may discuss birth control with the students not to worry they also tell students what the Church teaches!

AIDS education is mandated by the state of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh's Catholic schools, grades K-12th. Like sex education, little children are told how to make "good moral choices" when tempted to "engage in immoral or unhealthy activity." How do you explain this to children? Each grade is subjected to more and more detailed information and finally, students are given graphic descriptions of sexual intercourse, including anal and oral-genital intercourse, etc.

Feminist Spirituality

Adult Catholics seeking spiritual fulfillment are hard pressed to find an oasis of truth. The Adult Religious Education Speaker's Directory features the same caliber of "experts" to which our children are exposed and topics include: "Spirituality / Sexuality; Ecology / Environment; Homosexuality / AIDS; Hunger / Economy; Peace and Justice; Politics and the World; Racial Issues; Sexism; Clowning / Mime; Feminist Spirituality; Future Church; Earth Spirituality," etc.

A retreat center, Villa Marie, offers feminist theologian, Madonna Kolbenschlag, H.M. for September 7, 1996. Other speakers and topics, past and future are: Fran Ferder, FSPA and Rev. John Heagle (Time Consultant speakers) on "Issues of Sexuality, Relationship and Intimacy" (4/305/2/93); Barbara Walter, HM and Elaine Wellinger, HM on "Loving Your Christed Self." (7/31-8/4/94); Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, "The Holy Spirit, Female Imagery of God and the New Theology of Earth" (8/27/94); International Elderhostel, "Storytelling: Musical, Magical and Mysterious" (10/15-20/95) and a Guided Retreat with Barbara O'Donnell, HM and Rita Weinken, OSF on "Weaving Webs of Wisdom (7/28-8/1/96).

Catholic teaching is being cast aside as new age ideologies take over and usher in ecumenism and the idea of blending of all religions into one and the "one" religion for the world takes on various forms of occultism and body worship.

Catholics were exposed to "A Gift of Women" (5/ 16/ 1993) sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Spirit, Martina Renewal Center. The "Centering Prayer" included these verses: "I believe in the Holy Spirit, as she moves over the waters of creation and over the earth. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the women spirit of God, who like a hen created us and gave us birth and covers us with her wings..." 30 Participants were to sing a Centering song, "Dear Sister God," by David Haas. There was also a Response "Women of the World" written by Martha Ann Kirk, a participant at the "Women in the Church Conference, Washington, DC in which the "goddess" was invoked. Master Catechist, Joanne Paradise gave a "Reflection Gift of Women." (These people are figuratively so off-balance that no amount of "centering" will bring them back, only a return to the Faith can accomplish that!)

Bishop Wuerl's, "The Teaching of Christ," an adult catechism program has been a weekly television presentation aired on local television in the Pittsburgh area. It had been fed to national cable outlets by the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) until it was dropped by EWTN in the fall of 1993. Supposedly, losing his spot on national TV didn't bother the bishop who preferred to concentrate on the "program's local success."

Some of those interviewed on the Bishop's program have controversial backgrounds: Sr. Maureen Crossen, listed in the Adult Religious Education Speakers' Directory with "Feminist Spirituality" as her topic; Sheila Carney, RSM who "understands Mary as a paradigm of feminist liberation, a kind of icon for NOW;" Rev. Msgr. Charles O. Rice, controversial columnist for the Pittsburgh Catholic and promoter of APP priests. He also came to the defense of Sr. Kropinak in one of his columns, when she was exposed in The Wanderer; and "Rev. Timothy Fitzgerald, C.P., who speaks on "Earth Spirituality."

Dr. Susan Muto, who spoke at the 1992 East Coast Conference for Religious Education sponsored by the anti-Vatican "Time Consultants, Inc.," was also a guest on Bishop Wuerl's TV catechism program. Muto also worked with Fr. Adrian van Kaam at Duquesne University in "Formative Spirituality," an ecumenical program. Listed among publishers in the journal, "Studies in Formative Spirituality" were feminist theologians, Rosemary Radford Reuther and Monica Hellwig, dissident, Fr. Harvey Egan, as well as others involved with "Time Consultants." The journal included "special issues on Spiritual Perspectives (Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist)."

Another guest on the TV program, Dr. William Uricchio, had caused a big reaction with his "Understanding Human Sexuality" workshop at Gannon University (1/28-29/1983) because of its sexually explicit nature "complete with homosexual and heterosexual films." He was involved with "the pro-homosexual sex program called Sexual Attitudinal Restructuring [later renamed Sexual Attitudinal Reassessment]. Dr. Uricchio is listed on the Catholic Vision of Love Human Sexuality Advisory Subcommittee.

Last, but not least, Bishop Wuerl's most recent guest on his show was former Pro-Nuncio Cardinal Pio Laghi referred to earlier in this article.

Press Popular

Pittsburgh Catholics are at a loss to explain the apparent cozy relationship between Bishop Wuerl and the liberal press which has featured such flattering news articles about him as "Spirituality Is His Specialty" (Ann Rodgers-Melnick, Pittsburgh Press, 3/12/89); "Papal Selection May Prophesy Higher Calling For Wuerl" (Ann Rodgers-Melnick, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 8/31/90); "Bishop A Whirlwind At National Conference" which refers to him as a "rising star" (Ann Rodgers-Melnick, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 11/21/93). The latest promo (3/24/96) appeared on the front page of the Pittsburgh Post Gazett entitled "The Bishop Moves Ahead." It was subtitled "Insight CARDINAL VIRTUES" (emphasis added) and again was written by Ann Rodgers-Melnick. Is the press promoting Bishop Wuerl for advancement, using political tactics whereby all one needs for promotion is to get one's name out there often enough accompanied by pictures and flattering phrases?

Melnick wrote a very lengthy article and praised the Bishop in terms usually reserved for a cheap romance novel: "At 55, Wuerl is 5 feet, 11 inches tall and aesthetically thin from exercise and abstemious living. Beneath meticulously trimmed silver hair, his huge hazel eyes are the centerpiece of an expressive face. When he is not pleased, his jaw tightens and his lips become a thin grim line. But when Wuerl is happy and he usually is his broad smile can light a room."

The Bishop's motto is "Thy Kingdom Come, which is shorthand for 'Lord, help me today to make Your kingdom come." He "sees himself as a subcontractor for the Kingdom of God, recruiting workers and pulling out all stops to meet the deadline and specifications...the kingdom isn't a city of golden streets in the sky, but an earthly reality that people build with each act of generosity and every promise kept..." Many Catholics would ask Bishop Wuerl about his "acts of generosity" toward his people as far as time spent in listening to their legitimate concerns.

Social Butterfly

As Pittsburgh area churches are being closed, parishes are struggling to meet the "Parish Share" tax and Catholic parents are desperately striving to protect their Faith and that of their children, Bishop Wuerl spends time in the company of the rich and powerful. His name frequently appears on society pages, apparently in the company of people such as "river boat magnate," John Connelly. Events, such as the "Maecenas X Gala" and "The American Irish Fund" Dinner, described as a "lavish bash" are two examples of how the Bishop spends some of his leisure time. The Tribune Review, 3/27/95 revealed that guests at the "American Irish Fund" event "paid at least $500.00 a ticket to promote peace, culture and charity in Ireland...the deepest pockets paying $5,000 $10,000 were invited to the chi-chi [showy] private reception with guests of honor, Paul Newman and Melanie Griffith."

Bishop Wuerl's Forest in Israel

We can not fail to mention that Bishop Wuerl now has a complete forest named after him in Israel comprised of 5000 trees. The exact amount contributed by Bishop Wuerl is unknown. However, donations made him an eligible recipient of the "Jewish National Fund's Tree of Life Award." At a Jewish dinner held in Bishop Wuerl's honor he was referred to as " a dynamic force in the building of American-Israeli relations." Hmm, what's that saying about "not seeing the forest for the trees?"

Father Lawrence DiNardo says of the Bishop, "If there are people out there who think that Bishop Wuerl's whole goal in life was to do whatever he can to please the Holy See and move himself forward in the church...their judgment of him is mistaken..."

The writer of the article continues: "Wuerl understands that not every word from Rome carries the same weight and chooses his issues carefully..." His brother, Wayne said: "In any given environment, there are things that are permitted, things that are not permitted and there are definite gray areas...those gray areas are where a person like Don [Bishop Wuerl] can operate."

Pittsburgh Catholics, struggling to maintain their Catholic Faith and identity, many believe that what Bishop Wuerl has an obsession with is not "magnificent," but a dangerous preoccupation with sex education, homosexual advocacy, multi-culturalism, ecumenism, destruction of schools and parishes, feminism, married priests, politics, money, power, and suppression of the Faith. "Woe to the shepherd who...."

Mothers' Watch contact info:
P.O. Box 1029
Frederick, MD 21702-0029


© 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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