Skip to comments.Bishop Matthew Clark leaving indelible mark on diocese (Officially retired!!)
Posted on 07/17/2012 3:24:32 PM PDT by NYer
Bishop Matthew H. Clark remembers the letter: stern, foreboding, and signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — the man whom the world knows today as Pope Benedict XVI.
Delivered to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester in 1986, the Vatican’s letter said that Rev. Charles E. Curran’s beliefs on the subjects of masturbation, homosexuality and premarital sex would promote a questionable “pluralism in teaching moral doctrine,” and that Clark was not to defend the man’s opinions any more.
But Clark didn’t back down.
“Your Eminence, I fail to see how such a description does justice to what I wrote,” Clark responded in a return letter. “My intention was to portray moral theology as a living discipline, which ever faces new questions and which historically has developed a great deal.”
The exchange occurred only a quarter of the way through his tenure, but is a microcosm of Matthew Clark’s 33-year career as bishop of the Rochester diocese.
Sunday, Clark turns 75 years old, and is submitting his resignation to the Holy See, as is required of all bishops in the Catholic Church who reach that age.
With beliefs shaped by the historic Second Vatican Council, Clark’s willingness to explore evolving viewpoints on issues not supported by the Catholic Church have endeared him to his supporters, who call him caring, thoughtful, and compassionate in an era where some Catholics find themselves conflicted over church teachings.
He’s shown benevolence towards gay and lesbian Catholics, given leadership roles to women not seen in other dioceses, and has generally been accepting of progressive theologians, such as Curran.
But his willingness to compromise on certain subjects has also distressed his critics, who say that Clark has skirted Vatican authority at every turn, weakened the Catholic school system, confused parishioners through lenience on social issues, and turned the Rochester diocese into the most liberal district in the country.
As Clark’s tenure nears its end, the memories of both his strongest supporters and his harshest critics are studded with the same touchstones.
From a recent Chrism Mass in the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rochester, NY.
Retiring priest, Fr. Donnelly has been serving as the Sacramental Minister under laywoman pastoral administrator Anne-Marie Brogan (in alb behind the priest), who will continue on in that role.
Good bye and good riddance! Just one more year until we bid farewell to Albany NY Bishop Hubbard, who wreckovated this diocese as well.
I’m very happy for the denizens of the Rochester diocese, and prayers for patience to those in Albany.
Sadly, after 33 years of nonsense, it will take almost that long to recover with a diocesan bureaucracy firmly ensconced to resist any changes in the orthodox direction, with either open defiance or on the down-low (yes I used that term deliberately.)
The only hope is if a new ordinary is appointed who has the cajones to require that all diocesan employees submit resignations that he can choose to refuse or not on his own terms.
If he wants to be a protestant, there are dozens of denominations out there that would welcome him. If he wants female clerics, the Episcopalians would be glad to get him. If he wants to minister to the homosexual crowd, double ditto.
Why do these people stay in a Church that they obviously don't believe in? In business, we wouldn't accept a guy taking an executive salary from Coca-Cola and promoting Pepsi every time he turned around . . . no matter how much the guy said he liked Coca-Cola and just wanted it to change to be more like Pepsi . . . .
Yet Clark is in “full communion” with Rome. Is it any wonder many Catholics do not take the appellation of “full communion” (or threat of lack thereof) seriously?
It’s hard to defend the Faith when Rome has failed to defend its faithful from wolves like Clark.
Looks like Fr. Donnelly is holding up a plate of tacos and everyone else a bowel of Chex-mix. Nuts!
Good riddance. Unfortunately, after 33 years, the terrible legacy of a generation of improperly taught Catholic children will take quite a while to undo. They don’t know what they don’t know and they are raising their own children now.
More good seed that the crows will snatch away.
Come, Holy Spirit, and enkindle the hearts of your faithful.
Maybe if they reassigned a few of these loose cannon/canon Bishops and Priests to some more exotic places, like Antartica, or Siberia, or some place like that, before they reach 75, they might make other wobbly clerics think a bit more carefully before going off the deep end theologically or liturgically.
Sounds like a real pain in the ass.
the church, the country, and the world are where they right here right now because the watchman slept.
There is nothing wrong with Clark that burning him at the stake after a proper auto-da-fe would not cure (at least on earth). We need not limit the discipline to Clark. We need to add Howard Hubba Hubba Hubbard, Rembert Weakland, Charles Curran, and soooo many, many more of their ilk.
**that Clark was not to defend the mans opinions any more.
But Clark didnt back down.**
I bet the REAL Catholics of the Rochester diocese are so happy that he will be leaving soon.
Does he stay until he is replaced? Or has his replacement even been named yet?
This picture is a pi8cture of liturgical abuse.
Only the priest is to be at the altar, unless altar servers are there.
Also the hosts do not look genuine.
I agree with you, “Good riddance.”
Hopefully the woman goes too. She knows nothing about liturgy by participating in this way.
You know what they say, “The walls of hell are lined with the skulls of bishops.”
Well, here’s another skull — although I really can’t judge. Perhaps he will re-covert on his deathbed.
Just be patient, time does fly fast.
The burning at the stake will never happen.
Isn’t this the diocese that Bishop Peter John “Fulton” Sheen once ministered? Things sure changed rather quickly after he left.
The Bishop was obviously not being a very good 'shepherd', if he was allowing his flock to go over the cliff of sin, without even attempting to 'call them back' to repentance.
More’s the shame. As Cicero once said: O tempora, O mores! They would make a lovely light!
What a disgrace to have had this man as a bishop of Holy Mother Church — the damage he’s inflicted really cannot be overstated.
Good riddance to him, and prayers that the people of Rochester are given an authentically Catholic shepherd to lead them back to the flock.
Better yet, it is better to be called back to faith by God through faith.
Oh, don't worry about them! They're all in the Assembly of God and Baptist churches by now! /s /s /s ^ 10
The Ethiopian monks have a tale about an abbot, one of whose postulants died before taking final vows. The abbot subsequently has a horrible dream in which he sees the postulant up to his chest in a sea of fire in hell. The abbot expresses his horror, whereupon the postulant shouts back gaily, "Oh, don't worry about me, Father Abbot! I'm standing on a bishop's shoulders!
You already know the response.
A question I have heard frequently among conservative Catholics is "Why doesnt the pope do something about those bad bishops?" The question usually is prompted by frustration with a perceived lack of orthodoxy or zeal on the part of some bishop. Catholics in some places face situations in which it seems the bishop turns a blind eye to heterodoxy and dissentor even appears to give them his blessing. Faced with such dysfunctional diocesan environments, they naturally look to Rome for relief and redress, but often are disappointed to find that help is slow in coming, if it ever comes at all.
By "do something" people usually mean that they want the pope to discipline the bishop, to apply pressure on him to adhere more closely to Church teaching, or even to remove him. But most of uswhile from time to time sharing such wishes or even voicing themdont know exactly what can be done about a bad bishop. So Ill address a couple of common misconceptions about the bishops role and his relationship to the universal church, and Ill explain how the Church sees these things, both in its teaching and tradition.
He remains until a replacement is named. Given the history of complaints emanating from this diocese over the past 30+ years, I anticipate the pope will name a replacement sooner rather than later.
You are absolutely right!
Sheens formal arrival was on December 14, 1966. He said, I have an ardent desire to spend myself and to be spent, to get my arms around Rochester. Sheen spent his first evening in the dicoese at St. Bernards Seminary with the students. He told them, the roots of the diocese were in its seminary. One student, Joe Hart, later remembered how Sheen paused and started for perhaps found seconds, that seemed like forever when you were being introduced. It was as though he were looking through you, Hart said later.
His making over of a parish church for treatment of drug addicts was attempted without any consultation of the parishioners concerned, and general dissatisfaction with Sheen as Bishop of Rochester, New York, led to his retirement and resignation. He does write in his last years, however, "I am certain that it was God Who made certain people throw stones at me, but I am just as certain that I have thrown stones at other people, and for those stonings I beg His mercy and pardon."
Bingo! That is pretty much what has happened here in neighboring RC Diocese of Albany. Hubbard, like Clark (they're fellow seminarians), applied slash and burn policies on schools and parishes. In my hometown, there were 6 parishes, each struggling financially. Hubbard announced a series of talks to weigh information for possible mergers. He never personally appeared at any of those meetings, preferring to send one of his henchmen. The local catholics anticipated that one or two churches would close through mergers. In the end, he merged all 6 into 1 parish, despite the financial solvency of several parishes. The catholics revolted. Many joined an Evangelical church, just down the road. That church now brings in $35,000 a month and has expanded its property holdings.
And yet the SSPX, whose bishops are orthodox and faithful, are “outside” the Church. The injustice to all Catholics boggles the mind and has broken many hearts.
Our previous Pope was so hamstrung by the false sense of collegiality that sprung forth alongside the false "Spirit of VII" that he failed to protect the flock from sheep in wolves clothing. It took him a while, but our present Holy Father has finally come to his senses and cast off that error and is using the proper authority of his office to clean house.
When I attended Fairfield Prep soooo long ago trhat the Jebbies were still Catholic, we batted around the theological question as to whether Hitler or Stalin or other such notoriosos could possibly have made it to heaven despite their despicable track records. The Jebbies instructed us that either could have made heaven by accepting a genuine grace of final repentance and making a perfect act of contrition. Not that this was likely, mind you. Just remotely possible.
Now, Hitler and Stalin were not bishops of the Roman Catholic Church like Hubbard, Clark, Weakland and soooo many others of their ilk. They proved to be grossly unworthy shepherds who desecrated their sees and massacred their responsibilities. Likewise Curran as a theologian.
Batter folks than they were burnt at the stake such as St. Joan of Arc and Savanarola who were burnt for their virtues and not for whatever sins they may have committed. No likelihood of regrets or mistakes with the likes of those whom I listed. If any managed to sincerely repent, accept a grace of final repentance and make a perfect act of contrition as they would be consumed by the flames, their bonus would be reasonably prompt entrance into heaven. If not, not.
St. John Chrysostom famously observed that the floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops. Nothing new under the sun.
Many actual Catholics are well aware of SSPX Bishop Williamson's shameful holocaust denial and other eccentricities. He has even been disciplined by SSPX for the embarrassment that he is.
De Mallerais has a mouth on him that would embarrass the late Lenny Bruce especially when discussing popes.
Gallerata or whatever his name is has the virtue of gewnerally keeping his mouth shut.
Fellay is the genial front man and image meister of the schismatic sect since LeFebvre went, excommunicated, to his eternal "reward."
In saner times, they would have been tied to the stake as living fuel as well.
I am a Catholic for more than sixty years since baptism in infancy. Don't let your heart be broken. They deserve far more punishment than can be dished out in this life. So did Bernardin, and so does Law, Mahoney, Fiorenza, Pilarczyk, Quinn, and many Jadot bishops dead or alive, etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Declaration by JP II of the obvious fact that SSPX is a schism is justice and not injustice. It was JPII and not dead excommunicated Marcel who had the keys of the kingdom and used them. No Catholic with a mind finds it boggled by the papal justice meted out by JP II to punish Marcel and his revolutionary and despicable fellow miscreants.
The evil of the Jadot bishops does not justify the largely equal and opposite evil of the SSPX which has gotten far more positive attention than they ever deserved. SSPX should be given a hard deadline to submit unconditionally to the Vatican. If, as one may expect, SSPX refuses to do so. abolish the Ecclesia Dei Commission, excommunicate the leaders again, make attendance at their masses or receipt of sacraments from any of them a latae sententiae excommunicating offense for priests as well as laity. If they know what is good for them, SSPX will submit to B-XVI who has bent over backwards for them to the detriment of his authority as perceived from the pews. His successor is not likely to play patty cake with Fellay and company as B-XVI has.
If you value "fairness," may the Vatican publicly excommunicate them all, left and right, ignore them, and concentrate on the faith itself and those Catholics who ARE faithful and orthodox.
Finally, lest anyone be tempted to imagine otherwise, I attend the Tridentine Mass at St. Mary's Oratory in Rockford, Illinois, which is run by Fr. Bovee of the Institute of Christ the King: all Tridentine and absolutely in communion with and obedience to the pope and our new diocesan ordinary Bishop Malloy.
Walter Sullivan. Daniel Plarczyk
Pray for a quick replacement. We don’t have a new bishop one year after ours put in his resignation and we need one badly. He too, will have a hard time turning things around but it isn’t as bad as this.
The Church will be smaller, but full of much stronger souls, as the winnowing out continues. Sadly for many, Christ’s judgement will be fair as well as merciful. Those who had the fullness of the faith, and threw it away for something that was easier for them, will have some ‘splaining to do. The gate is narrow.
That liturgical dance photo is just ridiculous! I can’t stand liturgical dance... and I doubt it brings sacredness to the mind of anyone who watches it.
Any kind of “show” during Mass bugs me. No one should be calling attention to themselves in any way. What matters is what’s going on on the altar— the Eucharist!
Bishop Joseph Imesch of Joliet and Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie: two world class liturgical wreckovators. Bishop Joseph Adamec of Altoona-Johnstown. All retired and eminently eligible and worthy of the auto da fe and ready for roasting.
The problem was that when Clark became a bishop, he was simply left of center among the bishops of the American Church. Vatican II, among other things, marked a rebellion against Roman authority. Only with the accession of John Paul II did the situation begin to turn around, but this has been like turning a battleship around. Only ten years ago, after the priest crisis burst on the scene, the bishops turned to the liberal editor of Commonweal to address them in Dallas. Rome is using the 75 year rule gradually to pry men like Clack from their stranglehold on office. But he has been clever enough never to cross too far across the line. The devils disciples are seldom as obvious in their actions as Weakland.
Maybe for these two guys, but I was thinking more of others who are just like them but much younger, who may have 20 or 30 years more to mess up their Dioceses before they turn 75.
There ought to be a quicker way to get them out of there (before they hit 75), and at the same time, discourage other clerics with similar distorted views of their Faith and Church (who might be considering following in their path) from actually going that way at ANY age.
So, rather than blatently boot him out (in JP II's time), perhaps they should have quietly reassigned him to some special place where he would have had less influence, and could have found redeeming rehabilitation and genuine reconciliation with all the truths taught authoritatively and infallibly by the Church.
People like Clark have friends in high places. Plus Clark knows when to tread softly.
Was talking to my MIL and she told me that Bishop Clark sent his letter in expecting to serve until his replacement was named. When it was received he got word right away that he was done that day. Quite a shock and rebuke from the Pope. We are under the supervision of the Bishop from Syracuse until a replacement is named, which could take up to a year. All the priests were stunned, but my MIL’s priest shared some details. Very interesting.
Wow! That has got to be a first! Interesting that he placed you under the Syracuse bishop. Clark and Albany Bishop Hubbard have been friends since seminary. His axe will fall in December 2013. Prayers continue for your diocese. Thank you for posting this update.
Don’t forget that this Pope was the one to reprimand Clark during the blessings on gay unions, women preaching and all the other fiascoes that Clark caused.
And who can ever forget the debacle that ensued with Corpus Christi parish? I’m sure that was well documented in Clark’s Vatican dossier.