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UD Ministry Conference – some speakers reject Church doctrine October 11, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery, scandals.

I posted some time back about the upcoming University of Dallas Ministry Conference being hosted at the Dallas Convention Center.   This is THE formation/training event in the Dallas Diocese for all teachers, catechists, parish and diocesan staff, etc.  You would expect it to be filled with really good speakers, and there are quite a few good ones.  There are also a few who leave me scratching my head, wondering why UD and the Diocese would want to invite these individuals to influence those who help form the Faith of all the laity of the Diocese.  While they may be wonderful people and adhere awesomely to the Faith in some areas, in others they appear to hold views that are contrary to the Doctrine of the Faith.  Given my last post, in which I discussed some of the reaction within the Diocese to the news that most Catholics fail to understand or accept very significant articles of Faith, and how departures from the Doctrine of the Faith by various individuals with leadership roles in the Church may be feeding this lack of understanding/acceptance, it is distressing to read that this very important training seminar will be hosting people who publically reject the Faith.  Some of the “problem” speakers:

  • Dr. Gordon Greer – a professor at the University of Massachussetts, Dartmouth, and one deeply involved in social justice movements, Dr. Gordon Greer holds some views regarding homosexuality in general and the priesthood in particular that are seemingly at odds with Catholic doctrine.  She maintains that homosexuality should be no bar to the priesthood, in spite of repeated clarifications of Catholic doctrine from the Vatican and other sources that demonstrate that Catholic doctrine holds that those with an un-natural sexual inclination should not be candidates for the priesthood.  She rejects the notion that homosexual acts are intrinsically sinful.  In addition, she argues that the Church should “redefine” celibacy to allow for sexually active hetero- and homo-sexual priests (in other words, she rejects celibacy for priests).   To her mind, celibacy means leading a life dedicated to serving God, whereas she views not having sex as mere abstinence.  Regarding religious, Dr. Greer stated: “I’m sorry, but the asexual nun just doesn’t do it in the world anymore.”  So, apparently, those who make a gift of their sexuality to God and live a chaste, celibate life dedicated to prayer for the world (including Dr. Gordon), just “don’t do it anymore.”   Throughout a long speech reprinted here, Dr. Gordon rejects out of hand the concept that sex is reserved solely for the marital embrace.  In fact, she repeatedly conflates sinful sex that occurs outside of marriage, including homosexual activities, with sex within the marital embrace.  She sees no difference between sex inside, or outside, of marriage.  She also maintains a vision of radical discontinuity between the pre-and post- Vatican II Church, and that the Church must continue to shuck off “old doctrine” in order to “get with the times.”  Most disturbingly, Dr. Gordon implies that her colleagues at Catholic Charities can perform psycho-analysis to get one over their hangups about things like the sinfulness of sex outside marriage and homosexuality.  I did not know that Catholic Charities offered psychologists to overcome Church doctrine.
  • Amy L. Florian: Ms. Florian will be hosting seminars on children’s liturgy and end of life issues.  She also has problems with Church doctrine on homosexuality, and feels that gays should be able to marry and lead non-celibate lives.  While there are many emotional reasons for her rejection of Church doctrine in her essay on the subject, none are theologically sound or in line with Catholic doctrine.  She also holds the Traditional Latin Mass as being divisive and undermining the unity of the Church, contrary to Pope Benedict XVIs statements.
  • Sr. Dorothy Jonaitis – Sr. Jonaitis has stated that she looks to Bishop Thomas Gumbleton for moral guidance on the issue of homosexuality and Church doctrine, who she claims has stated that the “primacy of the individual conscience” somehow allows one to disagree with the clear Doctrine of the Faith on the issue of homosexuality.  She also stated that she would rather listen to the voice of her conscience than the guidance of the Pope. 

So, that’s just what I found in a quick review of the speakers done in one evening.  There are dozens of speakers, and I don’t have the time and resources to go over every one in depth, but it appears that most are relatively unknown and have little, if any, in the way of documentation available for review.  I did happen upon an unfortunate server on the UD website, trying to look up some information on some of the speakers, that apparently served as some kind of porn gateway.  Probably somehow got spammed, but nevertheless, they may want to obliterate this page

The last aspect of the conference that, I think, may be problematic, at least philosophically, is the panel on liturgical design being chaired by retired Msgr. Don Fischer, along with Methodist pastor Ellen Schipert, Linda McCray, and UD Professor Lyle Novinski.  First, it seems odd that a symposium on Catholic liturgical design (that is, the design of our chuches) would need or desire the input of a Methodist – the theology of the two churches being extremely different, and knowing that our own Church has an unparalleled history of sacred art and architecture.  Only if one is seeking to break, in some ways, from that tradition, would this outside input seem desirable.  Perhaps this is a new ecumenical effort.  Nevertheless, knowing the “liturgical spaces” favored by Msgr. Fischer and Professor Novinski, we can expect the trumpeting of church design that is cold, barren, and frequently modernist.  I reject the whole notion of reducing the awesome majesty of the Catholic sanctuary down to a “worship space.”   If you’ve been in many of our local churches, you know that the designs preferred by this panel hold complete dominance in the area – cold, sterile, and with what art there is, generally being quite bad.   There is precious little that is warm or inviting, and the sense of the transcendent, of the incredible mystery that surrounds the Mass, is often completely lost.  Beautiful churches can, and are, being built.  Some are being restored.  I think to some extent there is a generational gap here, but I know few Catholics who like our current concrete and exposed stone, virtually iconoclastic, churches.  I pray we will see a sea change in the coming years towards churches that are less modernist, less revisionist, and more representative of what the Church prays, and believes. 

I’m sure I’ll be derided as hard hearted, uncharitable, and out of touch, but I massively prefer this:

To this:


1. Mary - October 11, 2010

You are right, if we’re already seeing problems with people not knowing their faith, why are we bringing in heretical ‘experts’ who are teaching other teachers??? I see a problem with the whole lineup; why aren’t we bringing in well-known orthodox, true-to-the-faith, speakers? Where are the Scott Hahns and Father Bill Caseys???

And for the ‘liturgy design panel’, WHAT??? When will we learn to stop trying to re-design, rather than going with what works and avoiding what has shown over time to ‘not work’? I’m sorry, I don’t think an artist should be on the panel (pushing his own art). And why should we bring in a female methodist minister – I see no connection. Churches should be inspiring, not a white board, or collections of children’s art (ok, my opinion-but see their art for yourself). There shouldn’t be a so-called crucifix without the nails – hellooooooooo. We need to face the cold hard truth – we’re sinners and Jesus DIED for us and our sins, so that in His infinite mercy, we might spend eternity in heaven.

Ugh, I’m not sure they are getting it yet.

2. FrDarryl - October 11, 2010

I wish people would wise up and realise the whole concept of ‘social justice’ is just warmed over Marxism.

In Christian tradition and its interpretation of morals grounded in natural law, there are cardinal virtues and a particularly Christian schema, corporal works of mercy. Social justice as popularly conceived belongs to neither.

A good read debunking ‘social justice’ is Roger Struton’s new book ‘The Uses of Pessimism’.

3. FrDarryl - October 11, 2010

Here’s the best review I’ve seen; it’s in the venerable ‘Torygraph’ and the reviewer is Simon Heffer:

‘One of the more elegant, and accurate, answers to the question “why are you a Tory?” is “because I am a pessimist”. Tories do not believe in the perfectibility of the human condition. They deal with human nature as it is. Despite often having a determined individualism, they recognise the superior wisdom of institutions and the lessons of tradition. That, in essence, is what Roger Scruton’s latest book is about.’


Social justice activists are often egalitarians which makes them amoral. But ‘equality’ is a false abstraction – one of many – that masks people’s perception of reality. But reality always backs right morals.

4. David - October 13, 2010

I have notified a friend at UD about the bad link.

It seems that both bishops of Dallas and Fort Worth and have given their blessing over this event. While they have some seriously scandalous views, it seems that their lectures are on other topics. So, I can only hope that they stay on topic.

tantamergo - October 13, 2010

Of all the speakers, Greer Gordon is the most problematic. She has a history of pontificating on where the Magisterium is wrong, and, in speaking on ‘social justice,’ there is every likelihood she’s going to attack doctrine. Progressive social justice doctrine and these views rejecting Church doctrine on abortion/contraception/homosexuality/priestly celibacy/any groinal issue seem to go hand in hand. I don’t think the speaker lineup is that bad, but I would like to think it could be a great deal better. I plan on attending at least some of it, especially the liturgical design fiasco panel.

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