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Murderin' the Cathedral?: My Trip to Rochesterís Sacred Heart
Catholic Exchange ^ | June 10, 2005 | Rich Leondi

Posted on 06/10/2005 10:12:54 AM PDT by NYer

Bishop Matthew Clark took over my home diocese of Rochester, New York, in 1978 when I was about ten years old. So fixed is his name in my memory that regardless of where I attend Mass, during the liturgy of the Eucharist I half expect the priest to say "Matthew our bishop" despite the fact that I haven't lived in Rochester for almost twenty years.

A Visit Home

The controversy surrounding the renovation of Sacred Heart Cathedral is something I've followed off and on since the bishop announced his intentions in 2000. Clark’s plan was to "update" the small 1928 cathedral with an $11 million renovation. Yet so
incensed were some Rochester Catholics that a Sacred Heart Preservation Committee was formed to declare the cathedral a city landmark in an ultimately failed attempt to thwart the bishop.

Sacred Heart is around the corner from my high school, Aquinas Institute, and several of my school friends belonged to the parish and attended its school. Accompanied by my father and my seven-year-old son, I decided to visit the Cathedral during a recent trip home to see what the fuss was about.

Now, I am not an architectural expert — far from it. To date my Catholic focus has been on catechesis. So my recognition of a bad renovation is, on a certain level, like Justice Potter Stewart's famous dictum for identifying obscenity: "I know it when I see it." (More on standards later.)

A House Swept Clean and Empty

You first notice the sea of chairs. That's right, chairs. There are no pews in Clark's self-described "Mother Church." Instead there are padded, movable, light brown chairs not much different from those you’d find at an outdoor wedding reception, only these come with flimsy retractable kneelers. Don't bump one of them, because you're likely to shift noisily the entire row.

Then your eyes are drawn to the plain, box-like structure in the middle of the church. Elevated on a slate and marble riser, it looks like one of those kitchen islands that people place in their homes after a remodeling project. You wouldn't be surprised to find a cast iron range or an indoor grill underneath the linen. If you haven't guessed it, this is what the good bishop thinks an altar — the place where heaven and earth meet — should look like. Where the old altar stood are rows of even more chairs, presumably there for the choir to "entertain" the assembly.

Next, you notice the bishop's chair, the "cathedra" of the cathedral. It looks like a captain’s chair from the inside of a conversion van or a borrowed seat from one of the JetBlue airplanes that shuttle Rochesterians to and from New York City. Like the chairs for the congregation, it too is padded and, like everything else in the place, entirely lacking in sacramentality. As I explained to my son, the chair represents the seat of a bishop's authority in his diocese. Somehow Bishop Clark's chair is a particularly fitting image of his tenure.

The Woeful Record

Am I being too hard on Bishop Clark? I don’t think so. Clark’s twenty-six-year tenure as Rochester’s bishop has been an unmitigated disaster. This once proud diocese of hard-working Italian and Irish immigrants has been turned into a hothouse of pelvic
dissent and liturgical loopiness. You might call it Three’s Company Catholicism, since the forward-thinking Christianity practiced here has the feel and reverence of a late '70s sitcom.

Diocesan masses are known for prohibited liturgical dancers, the prohibited "option" of standing during the consecration, similarly prohibited lay homilies, and the sloppy (and prohibited) practice of self-intinction, whereby the communicant is permitted to "dunk" the consecrated host into a chalice containing the Blood of Christ.

In anticipation of a 1997 "Mass for Gay and Lesbian Catholics" held by Clark at the cathedral, he said it would be "oppressive and manipulative" even to mention what the Church teaches about human sexuality. It's no wonder that Clark is barely able to ordain one new priest per year to serve a diocese of 350,000 Catholics.

Wreckovation vs. the Teaching of the Church

The cathedral project was overseen by Fr. (or, variously, "Dr.")
Richard Vosko, a collarless, suit-and-tie-wearing priest from the nearby diocese of Albany who claims "we need a new understanding of what religion is and what God is." He has raised the ire of many Catholics by bringing that "new understanding" to cathedrals in Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville and Seattle.

Vosko and Clark claim the renovation brings Sacred Heart into conformity with "the current norms of the Roman Catholic Church." I presume they're talking about the "norms" set out in Environment and Art in Catholic Worship, a nonbinding pamphlet with no authority published by the Bishops' Committee on Liturgy in 1978 and never voted on by the bishops themselves.

The real norms are contained in the documents of Vatican II, specifically Sacrosanctum Concilium which states that "there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them, and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing."

My father, a "live and let live" Rochester native who has developed a survivor's mentality after a quarter-century of Bishop Clark, took one look inside Sacred Heart and said, "You've got to be kidding me!" before requesting that we leave.

He got no argument from me.

TOPICS: Activism; Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; History; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Worship
KEYWORDS: altar; amchurch; bishopclark; cathedral; modernism; rochester; sanctuary
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1 posted on 06/10/2005 10:12:54 AM PDT by NYer
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To: NYer

Bishop Clark is a little father of lies.

2 posted on 06/10/2005 10:22:57 AM PDT by Siobhan ("Whenever you come to save Rome, make all the noise you want." -- Pius XII)
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To: american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...
this is what the good bishop thinks an altar — the place where heaven and earth meet — should look like.

New bishop's chair, a gift from the Priests of the Diocese to Bishop Clark on his 25th Anniversary.

3 posted on 06/10/2005 10:25:15 AM PDT by NYer ("Love without truth is blind; Truth without love is empty." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer
Not even good enough for a Masonic Temple I would think -- but maybe just fine for a pseudo-Egyptian New Age temple welcoming the 'Spirit of the age' where baptism is administered by the immersion of the buttocks.
4 posted on 06/10/2005 10:33:04 AM PDT by Siobhan ("Whenever you come to save Rome, make all the noise you want." -- Pius XII)
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To: NYer

I really found this jaw dropping.

5 posted on 06/10/2005 10:38:44 AM PDT by Bahbah (Something wicked this way comes)
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To: NYer

It looks like something out of a bad science fiction movie, and really uncomfortable at that.

6 posted on 06/10/2005 10:43:00 AM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: NYer
"we need a new understanding of what religion is and what God is."

Gee. I always thought God was a Who not a What.

7 posted on 06/10/2005 11:03:34 AM PDT by siunevada
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To: NYer
Inside the "wreckovated" Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester:

Inside the Church of St. Irene in Constantinople:

If you see a similarity between the two, it's because both were completely stripped of their ornamentation. In the case of St. Irene, it was the Turks who destroyed the altar, painted over the mosaics, and ripped out everything holy and beautiful. In Rochester, it was a "Catholic" bishop who did it.

For the record, St. Irene is now used as a concert hall for an Istanbul music festival. My guess is that's what Bishop Clark has in mind for Sacred Heart as well.

So sad.
8 posted on 06/10/2005 11:05:57 AM PDT by Antoninus (Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini, Hosanna in excelsis!)
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To: NYer

What would Archbishop Fulton Sheen say?

9 posted on 06/10/2005 12:21:35 PM PDT by Saint Athanasius ("I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born." - Ronald Reagan)
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To: NYer

The chair looks like something out of Planet of the Apes!

10 posted on 06/10/2005 1:12:23 PM PDT by Gerish (Choose God, he has already chosen you.)
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To: NYer
The above photo of a "catholic" altar  looks like the altar at the UN Meditation Room which is dedicated to New Age Paganism.

The Preamble of the Earth Charter states:

… we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature.... Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.

11 posted on 06/10/2005 1:21:57 PM PDT by Coleus (Abortion and Euthanasia, Don't Democrats just kill ya! Kill babies, Save the Bears!!)
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To: Coleus

Oh yuck!

12 posted on 06/10/2005 1:32:33 PM PDT by NYer ("Love without truth is blind; Truth without love is empty." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer
Grappling With Catholic Feng Shui : Should the altar be turned around?
13 posted on 06/10/2005 1:38:25 PM PDT by Coleus (God doesn't like moderates, Rev 3:15-16)
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To: Gerish; wagglebee
The chair looks like something out of Planet of the Apes!

Ah c'mon .. where's your sense of taste in contemporary design. Besides, it's a 'gift' from the priests of his diocese. Here's a closeup look, so you can admire the fine wood and fabric. Perfectly suited for this bishop, wouldn't you say? All that's missing is the lever on the side. (/sarcasm)

The new cathedra (bishop's chair) and Sacred Heart Cathedral was designed by area artist John Dodd.

14 posted on 06/10/2005 1:42:16 PM PDT by NYer ("Love without truth is blind; Truth without love is empty." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: Bahbah; Antoninus; Siobhan
I really found this jaw dropping.

You simply don't understand Bishop Clark :-) Here's a better look at the altar, as well as the one it replaced. Now frankly, which altar is more practical ... be honest ;-D.

A new stone altar sits in the middle of Sacred Heart Cathedral. The restored large rood beam and crucifix date from the 1950s, also depicted here.

Try not to imagine Bishop Sheen saying the Mass at this altar in his former cathedral.

15 posted on 06/10/2005 1:46:58 PM PDT by NYer ("Love without truth is blind; Truth without love is empty." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer

I'm sorry, but this doesn't look like a church and it certainly doesn't look like a cathedral. I'm not saying that churches and cathedrals need to be huge gothic structures, some modern design is fine, but there needs to be some tradition retained. People travel from all over the world to see the cathedrals of Europe and places like St. Patricks in NYC; but in 50 years, people will probably look at these and say "what were they thinking?"

16 posted on 06/10/2005 1:55:02 PM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: NYer

It is astonishing to me that the same Church that gave us the most amazing and beautiful structures ever built--ranging from the great Gothic cathedrals to St. Peter's to the beautiful Baroque churches all over Austria--has been convinced by scam artists like Matthew Clark and Fr. Vosko to spend untold millions to replace beauty with ugliness, as has happened at the Rochester cathedral.

17 posted on 06/10/2005 2:04:18 PM PDT by Thorin ("I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.")
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To: wagglebee; Antoninus; Thorin; Coleus; GipperGal; Siobhan; Bahbah
but in 50 years, people will probably look at these and say "what were they thinking?"

50 years? How about now ... "what were they thinking!"

To 'appreciate' this situation, you must go to the heart of the matter. Who wanted to renovate the cathedral? Bishop Clarke, of course. And why? Here's the answer ........

"Other men who became bishops during Jadot's tenure in the United States include Rochester Bishop Matthew Clark; Albany's Howard Hubbard; former Santa Fe Archbishop Roberto Sanchez, who resigned in a sex scandal; former San Jose Bishop Pierre DuMaine; former Honolulu Bishop Joseph Ferrario; San Antonio Archbishop Patrick Flores; former Newark Archbishop Peter Gerety; Joliet, Ill., Bishop Joseph Imesch; Louisille Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly, O.P., a former staffer at the apostolic nuncio under Jadot; Bernard Cardinal Law of Boston (whom Jadot selected as bishop for Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Mo.), Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk; Saginaw, Mich., Bishop Kenneth Untener - to name a few more - all of whom, supposedly, mirrored his own progressive image as a "man of the people."  

Each of these prelates has been a strong advocate of the pro-homosexual agenda in the U.S. Church, ordaining homosexuals, imposing pro-homosexual education on Catholic schools, aiding and abetting special rights legislation in the civil realm for homosexuals, and giving free rein to homosexuals and lesbians in religious orders which operated schools, universities, parishes, seminaries, and retreat houses in their dioceses and archdioceses.

"If, however, you were to ask a conservative like Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York, he would say Jadot hurt the Church in the United States by picking the ‘very worst' bishops. This is because John Paul II had changed the criteria. It was part of his plan to bring a runaway, postconciliar Church back to its senses."
Still Proud Of Bishops He Gave U.S.

So now we have established how Matthew Clark and Howard Hubbard, friends since seminary, were each accorded their own dioces in NYS. We also have motive for the transformation of Sacred Heart Cathedral. But who is this Fr. Dr. Vosko chosen to redesign the cathedral? Well, he comes from the Diocese of Albany, run by Clark's dearest friend, Bishop Howard Hubbard. Fr. Dr. Vosko tested his "wreckovation" designs in the Albany Diocese before being unleashed on the rest of the US and world. The methodology Fr. Dr. Vosko uses to sway opinion in favor of his designs is known as the "Delphi Technique". This manipulative strategy first developed by the Rand Corporation in the 1950's is an effective method of gaining acceptance of a controversial proposal. The ultimate purpose of effecting a paradigm shift in Catholic church architecture is to radically remake Catholicism by striking at the outward manifestations of the Catholic faith.

PHASE ONE of DELPHI Technique begins when the decision is made to renovate. The realistic maintenance needs are used as a pretext to hide agenda. The announcement of a need for a "Litrurgical Design Consultant" and a "core committee" to oversee renovation does not include a admission that more is planned than "maintenance and upkeep." The members of this committee are characterized and noticed for their loyalty to the pastor, rather than to their faith or the Church. (Dr. BARBARA FREDERICKS was declined admission to the core committee or any other renovation committee related to her verbal opposition to possible radical change.) However "No decisions have been made" is the modus operandi. During this phase a contract is signed with the Liturgical Design Consultant.

PHASE TWO OF DELPHI TECHNIQUE -"Restoration" introduced Articles begin to appear in the parish bulletin or newsletters introducing the idea of "restoration" rather than renovation. The parish/diocese will hear sound bite-like distortions of the truth, such as "the church will be restored to its orginal beauty" or "the historic and architectural integrity of the church will be respected."

PHASE 3 - EDUCATIONAL SESSIONS The consultant arrives at the parish/diocese to begin a series of educational sessions. First on the agenda is a slide-show lecture of the development/history of Catholic church architecture from a modernist's viewpoint to disparage traditionally arranged spaces and to challenge parishioners notions of what a church should look like, interlarded with subjective and contrived theological opinions.

PHASE THREE is the beginning of the marginalization process. It started in Rochester at a unusual early point with the "Along the Way" column of March 29, 2001 titled "Cathedral project merits respectful discussion". Bishop Clark stated: "Think about it for a minute. Why would any bishop in his right mind want to destroy a cathedral he loves, that is home for all of his people?" The marginalization process continues as long as necessary. The vocal group opposing renovation will invariably be castigated publicly in homilies and in parish newsletter and bulletins. The sole purpose of this is to vilify the opposition as fringe dissidents in order to discredit them and their criticisms, while portraying renovation proponents as victims of intolerant and rigid people. Currently, the theme in SACRED HEART Cathedral homilies is that opponents of the "nothing has been decided plan" are "divisive".

PHASE 4 - RENOVATION BUREAUCRACY INITIATED "By this time, the pastor has identified those in the parish who will be strong advocates of the pre-determined plan for the renovation. These parishioners will be placed on "re-vision" or "renew" committees to stack the deck against those who oppose the project. Some consultants recommend a complex bureaucratic structure. For example, there may be a finance committee, fundraising committee, logistics and hospitality committee, data gathering committee, architect selection committee, art and furnishings committee, music instruments committee, and liturgy committee....The committee structure helps forge the impression that the whole project design process is democratic and a community effort." (quoted from Pages 39&40 of "The Renovation Manipulation" by Michael Rose published in very early 2000 by Aquinas Publishing Ltd.) The Rochester Diocese wasted no time in converging phases one thru five.

PHASE 5 - SURVEY TAKEN & SMALL GROUPS DESIGN WORKSHOP Parishioners are then questioned by means of an anonymous SURVEY (SEE SACRED HEART BULLETIN of May 20, 2001), as to how they feel about their faith, and the church itself....The information gathered from the SURVEY is then used to lead parishioners to the conclusion that the parish is not celebrating the sacraments according to the "spirit of Vatican II", and a remodeled church is needed to meet the needs of the new liturgy.

The whole process is designed to wear out the opposition. From this point on the "core" committee, hand picked by the pastor, sees the project as smoothly as possible to its completion. For those few on the committees who still oppose the project it is rough going. They are ignored. Some are dismissed from the committee if they are too vocal. So that by the time it comes to make the final "decisions" only renovation proponents and docile sheep remain. The PRE-ORDAINED plan is trotted out and ratified. CONSENSUS is reached and the project is implemented. (Ibid, page 42)

You can read much more on how this technique was employed at Sacred Heart Cathedral ... AFTER ... it was successfully used with Bishop Rembert Weakland in Milwaukee.

Personally, my hat is tipped to Michael Brennan and the hundreds of devout Sacred Heart parishioners who stood up to Fr. Dr. Vosko and bravely fought off all attempts to 'wreckovate' this beautiful cathedral. You can read more at this link:

Renovate or Reckovate DOMUS DEI (House of God) .

It's only a matter of time before these ultra liberal bishops reach retirement age. In the meantime, thousands of 'sheeples' have wandered and strayed; others, like Mr. Brennan, have taken on the responsibility of holding the flock intact. Please remember all of us in the Albany and Rochester Dioceses, in your prayers. Thank you!

18 posted on 06/10/2005 4:42:21 PM PDT by NYer ("Love without truth is blind; Truth without love is empty." - Pope Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer


19 posted on 06/10/2005 6:40:12 PM PDT by CatQuilt (GLSEN is evil)
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To: NYer

Just a side note here: The DELPHI Technique is also used by school districts around the country as a means to browbeat parents into accepting all kinds of "new" education.

It is a nefariously effective technique. IMO, only extremely strong personalities are able to withstand it without swaying.

I find it disconcerting that the Church feels it necessary to employ this particular technique to brainwash (yup, I said brainwash) parishoners into accepting these kinds of changes to their parishes.

I know of one parish that is undergoing this exact thing, and they are indeed using DELPHI to do it. The template is always the same: "maintainance and repair," is how it starts. Then it was "renovation." Right now they're up to "the old church will remain architechturally pure but the NEW church will be where most Masses are said." Disgusting.


20 posted on 06/10/2005 7:46:40 PM PDT by VermiciousKnid
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