Skip to comments.Letter of Rev. Fr. Charles Murr to Parish and Parents
Posted on 04/06/2004 7:57:38 AM PDT by CatherineSiena
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES CHURCH
135 EAST 96TH STREET
NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10128
April 5, 2004
To the Parish of St. Francis de Sales and the Children and Parents of the St. Francis de Sales School/St. Lucy Academy:
On Friday, April 2, 2004, I resigned as pastor of the Parish of St. Francis de Sales. I am writing to you now to explain the circumstances that led me to make this decision.
Our parish school, the St. Francis de Sales School/St. Lucy Academy, currently faces some grave problems. One concerns financial management. Contrary to the policies of the Archdiocese, no financial statements for the school have been prepared for any period after August 31, 2001, and thus no one knows what the financial condition of the school actually is. It is clear, however, that for several years the school has not been making required payments for insurance and pension benefits, and the Archdiocese calculates that the school owes the Archdiocese over $638,000. Although I attempted to work with the administration of the school to prepare the needed financial statements, the schools administration consistently failed to cooperate with me, and, on the advice of the Parish Council, I notified the Archdiocese in January that I intended to replace the principal and vice principal of the school. The Archdiocese accepted this decision and last week resolved to send officials from the chancery to begin preparing and auditing financial statements for the school.
The second problem at the school concerns religious instruction. On the most recent administration of the Archdioceses standardized religion test last June, approximately 66% of our students failed. The major reason for this was that several of our teachers were not committed to teaching the Catholic faith. One teacher, for example, was taking her students to non-Catholic religious services on Sunday mornings. Another refuses to teach her students to make the Sign of the Cross. Others do not teach those doctrines of the Catholic faith with which they disagree. To rectify these problems, I appointed a new Director of Religious Education for the school this year, but the teachers who were hostile to Catholic doctrine disrupted his classes, belittled him in front of his students, instructed his students to ignore him, and even spread slanderous reports about him. I thus determined that the employment contracts of these teachers would not be renewed for the coming academic year, and on April 1, I informed these teachers accordingly.
It has been reported to me that, on April 1, at least some of these teachers held their students after school, read to them my letter declining to renew their employment contracts, and provided their own comments on the matter. Predictably, they reduced many children to tearful hysteria. The behavior of these teachers was reprehensible; they intentionally inflicted harm on innocent children in order to advance their own private interests. On behalf of the school, I apologize to these students and their parents for the grossly unprofessional conduct of these teachers.
On Friday afternoon, Msgr. Thomas Gilleece, the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, informed me without further explanation that, by order of the Cardinal, I was to renew the employment contracts of the principal, the vice principal, and all the affected teachers. Since I could not in good conscience, as a pastor charged with the care of souls, comply with this order, I resigned as pastor of the Parish of St. Francis de Sales and as administrator of the Parish of St. Lucy. On Saturday, April 3, the members of the Parish Council wrote Cardinal Egan informing him that they shared my views regarding the need to reform the school and had concluded that they could not in good conscience as faithful Catholics be associated with his order to reinstate the principal, the vice principal, and the affected teachers. The members of the Parish Council thus resigned their positions. The Parish Trustees likewise resigned. As of the date of this letter, none of us has received any reply from the Cardinal.
It has been a great honor to serve as your pastor. You will all remain in my prayers.
Servus, in Christo Jesu,
Fr. Chas. Theo. Murr
I can't believe that some on this thread on still arguing the Latin mass when we obviously have much more serious problems, such as this subversive infiltration of our children's Catholic schools. Do yourselves and the Church a favor, my friends, and get off the Tridentine kick and into Jesus Christ.
It can't be called subversive if the diocese would rather the priest leave than the principal or any of the teachers. Obviously they know about it, obviously this is what they want. I just can't figure out why, unless there is blackmail or something else criminal involved.
The problem is deeper: lack of commitment by real Catholics to educating the young. As the sisters diminish in numbers, we need a different approach. How about a proactive campaign for good Catholic teachers?
Heard the good cardinal yesterday at the Chrism Mass. Blessing holy oil for the entire year, while Catholic kids are getting their religious instruction undermined.
I love my church, but its priorities are wack.
For your first post on a Catholic thread (at least that I have noticed), you sure are starting off on the wrong foot by displaying your ignorance. There is nothing either in heaven or on earth that is more important than the holy sacrifice of the Mass. All of the Catholic schools in the world could not add up to the spiritual value of 1 Catholic Mass. So when the Mass is attacked, then the very center and source of spiritual life is attacked. Of course there are other issues, and every element of the Catholic faith is essential, but the Mass is the source and the summit of all Catholic belief and practice.
this subversive infiltration of our children's Catholic schools
When there is heterodoxy in belief, and heteropraxis in worship, then inevitably that must filter into the Catholic schools. We can only restore our Catholic schools when we restore traditional Catholic belief and worship. It will never be possible for protestants to run an authentically Catholic school.
Do yourselves and the Church a favor, my friends, and get off the Tridentine kick and into Jesus Christ.
Yeah, maybe I can be "born again" and learn to play "Kumbaya" on the guitar. Anyone who thinks that you can "get into Jesus Christ" by any method other than traditional Catholic faith and sacraments has a protestant mentality.
Excellent point. And this process was very real, not just symbolic. Catholics thought, "If they can change the rules about the Mass, about eating fish on Fridays, about women wearing headcoverings in church, etc., then they can change the rules about anything. I can make my own rules about birth control, sex outside marriage, etc., and they can no longer pretend that their 'rules' are handed down by God."
Frankly, the biggest problem right now, IMO, is lack of Catechesis beginning in the late 1960's. That is directly related to the relaxation of all the "rules". That's when it happened. I grew up in the 70's and was a victim of it. It hasn't been until the last couple of years that I've truly understood what it means to be Catholic - and I didn't learn it from school or my elders.
Another excellent point. Like you I was given a supposedly "Catholic" education in the 1970s, and I was appalled when I found out how little I knew and how much of the faith I was ignorant of.
I feel that way about a lot of my education. Even though I went to Catholic primary and secondary schools, most of my education was done in the home - by myself, or from my parents. My mom encouraged me to look things up on my own, and concerning my faith, she would always "throw" around phrases from the traditional Mass like "Deo gratias" regularly. I think I have learned the most about my faith over the past 2-3 years on my own.
My entire point is that the sharper the scalpel with which one goes into an argument, the better chances one has of getting to the truth. Not all rules and regulations are equal. So keeping the minutiae the same is not the same as the rule about teachers in a Catholic school not subverting the faith of their charges. You don't get back to essentials by going back to the Latin mass. You get back to essentials by getting back to essentials.
I agree that the mass is central to our worship and our religious life. I don't agree that arguments about whether it should be in Latin are a good use of our time.
And lastly, wasn't it Jesus who said you must be born again? I don't like the appellation "born-again Christian" because it implies that Catholics should not be born again. It somehow leaves us out of that important transformation.
Really last: I hate "Kumbayah."
I guess we're not going to agree on this, but I think you should do some research about what has happened to the traditional Catholic Mass since the time of Vatican II. The Catholic Mass is not "minutiae." Even to suggest so is sacrilegious. The traditional Catholic Mass of all time which is offered in the Latin language IS "the essentials." It's the very definition of "essentials." It is the reason and purpose for our existence: to offer to God fitting adoration, reparation, thanksgiving and supplication.
If you're too angry about what Cardinal Egan is doing to this parish to think about any other issues, you should take a look at the recent threads about Cardinal Egan shutting down the National Shrine of St. Ann in Manhattan, the location where the indult Latin Mass is offered, so that he can sell the property to the US Post Office. You will see that his modus operandi is all of one piece.
My entire point is that the sharper the scalpel with which one goes into an argument, the better chances one has of getting to the truth. Not all rules and regulations are equal.
I agree with your line of thinking, but you may be getting the cause and effect backwards. As you say, if we want to be effective, we cannot afford to waste energy tilting at every windmill. So if we want to strike at the root of all the cancer in the Church, the root cause of the many crises we see surrounding us, from the breakdown of religious life, to the corruption of Catholic schools, to the scandals in the priesthood, to the lack of Mass attendance on Sunday, to the abandonment of sexual morality, where are we going to find the source of all these evils? The problems at this parish school are clearly just symptoms of a pervasive problem. So where is the root underlying cause? If you haven't thought that out, then you may not have a very good handle on which problems to attack first.
Many Catholics that I know well, in their ardor to be pleasing to God, have gone overboard on the less important matters while neglecting such major matters as the daily--hourly!--need to focus on the message. My point is that there is no connection, except for the vague one that both endeavors proceed from zeal. One is a dead end--and in fact alienates other Catholics who are faithful in going to mass in the vernacular and feel that they are somehow being told there is a "better" way--and the other is the Road. Straight and narrow, but not in terms of what day we bless the chrism.
God is a spirit, and they that worship Him worship Him in spirit and in truth. It's harder, in a way, because it changes from day to day, or rather is revealed to be slightly different from the day before, as our spirituality deepens, but I'm convinced it is better than arguing about liturgy.
As to what the problem springs from ultimately, it's easy as well as accurate to say the Evil One--from those who intentionally subvert our inner faith and its outer manifestations. And then secondarily from the unthinking sheep who wander after these folks in search of their own temporal gratifications. We have to become activists and "reverse-Gramsci" the world--not something that will be accomplished overnight.
This is because you don't know enough of what you speak to know how drastically you're contratdicting yourself in the above statement.
Nevermind the rampant liturgical absuses we read about every day. The Latin mass kept a global uniformity, purity of translation and integrity of worship that is impossible to do with all of the various vulgar vencacular masses. It was sacrificial, Christ centered and vertical. Not narcissistic, parishioner centered and horizontal.
How do we benefit through a less devotional mass or by angering God?
Really last: I hate "Kumbayah."
Not that it's a big issue or anything, but "Kumbayah" is a song of great sadness and soul. Although Jesus haters would have you believe that it was invented by suburbanite Christians sitting around a campfire, the truth is quite the opposite.
It originated from the American slaves singing to the Lord for their salvation.
The line "Kumbaya" is derived from "come by here" when they slanged it. They wanted the Lord to "come by here" and save them, and prayed so with an African/Blues melody.
If it's sung properly it's quite beautiful.
And if I still don't know whatof I speak, after being harangued to death by my holier-than-thou acquaintances and friends walking around with their Latin-English missals and holy cards, I guess I never will.
The nostalgia these objects elicit in me is downright Proustian, however. I do wish we could go back to the morals of those days, at least, which I will never believe are related to the Latin mass. My formula has been Throw out the television set, from which all the evils of the world have been loosed upon us like the insects of Pandora's Box, and speak in Church in a language that people understand.