jump to navigation

Hero or knave? Man destroys secular, pagan art in cathedral March 13, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, different religion, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, Glory, manhood, secularism, self-serving, Society, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, Virtue.

A disgruntled custodian at the Omaha cathedral destroyed secular displays installed in the nave and side chapels of the cathedral for an upcoming flower show.  Why a cathedral would have a flower show is beyond me, but the displays were worse. Now, this man has a bit of troubled history – he has served time in federal prisons for trespassing into secure facilities where nuclear weapons are stored – but he seems to be one of those rare creatures, a relatively orthodox Catholic who happens to be on what many might call the liberal side of things.

I wonder what you think?  Is he a hero for fighting the ongoing secularization and indifferentism in the Church, or is he a wrong for going much too far and physically destroying ostensibly valuable property?  I’ll let you know what I think at the end (my emphasis and comments):

Mark Kenney, 59, who grew up in the parish, had worked at St. Cecilia Cathedral for three years. Around 8 a.m. on Jan. 29, he went to a work shed, picked up a pair of heavy-duty bolt cutters and ascended to a catwalk high above the mostly empty nave, or main sanctuary.

He looked through a peephole, he said, to make sure he wouldn’t hurt any people. And then he cut a steel cable, which sent a suspended, umbrella-carrying, hat-wearing Mary Poppins figure crashing to the floor.

Kenney then went downstairs and removed a cardboard Buddha figure [so this wasn’t just offensive from the sexular pagan perspective, it was indifferent, as well, giving at least tacit support or endorsement for a foreign religion created by devils (Ps xcv:5)] from the Nash Chapel, which also featured costumed mannequins from “The King and I.” He threw the Buddha out one door and proceeded to toss costumed mannequins out two other doors.

Someone alerted the pastor, the Rev. Michael Gutgsell, who ran from the rectory next door to the church and saw Kenney.

“Mark,” he called out, “did you see who did this?”

“Father, it was me. You need to call the police.” [He’s willing to  own up to his crime, such as it was]

Gutgsell had known that his custodian had misgivings about secular displays in the church but says he was dumbfounded and didn’t understand why Kenney would take such drastic action. [Because like a lot of orthodox Catholics, he’s tired of dialogue being a one way liberal harangue and always being expected to just take whatever travesty is visited upon themselves or their parish time after time after time?] In a brief meeting that week, the pastor said, he had asked for Kenney’s promise not to be disruptive.

Now the priest was shocked, saying, “You promised!”

In response, Kenney said, he lashed out. “I started screaming, ‘Father, this is bullshit! We can’t have this in the church. This isn’t culture, it’s Disney crap!’ ” [Maybe this guy’s a nut.  Maybe he’s not really all that faithful. Maybe he has a bunch of bad ideas.  But I have a hard time not liking him from afar, and somewhat admiring him for his willingness to put his faith into action]

……….Damaging items at the flower festival was wrong, and Kenney said in an interview this week that he will make restitution. But he says secular items such as movie characters are inappropriate in the sacred space of the cathedral and amount to sacrilege and idolatry. [I agree]

Gutgsell, a former chancellor of the Omaha Archdiocese and a Catholic University-licensed “canon lawyer,” an expert in church laws and rules, disagrees.

“Obviously, context is everything,” the priest said, noting that the cathedral also is home to about six concerts a year. No sacrilege or disrespect is conveyed, he said, in the concerts or the dozens of exhibits at the flower festival. [Well, a concert is very different from a display of the buddha in a Catholic Church.  As is having Mary Poppins soaring above the nave.  Disrespect may not be deliberate, but that doesn’t make it any less real.  I, for one, believe very strongly that sacred spaces should be reserved for sacred things, entirely.  But we all  know that the Mass has been deliberately denuded of sacrality in a very deliberate effort to fundamentally change the Church, and this is just one more example of that overweening desacralization]

“Cathedrals,” he said, “are kind of the epicenter for culture presentation and development.” [Well, I have a little bit different definition, I’d say cathedrals are the locus of Catholicism in a diocese and the vital center from which the faith emanates to all surrounding regions.  It should be THE most sacred and have THE strongest sense of the Faith – sensus fidei – in the entire diocese.  We can see that this post-conciliar educated canon lawyer obviously has a very different view, that cathedrals are much more about the horizontal, the local “culture,” rather than about the vertical, a focal point of worship  of God and a stronghold of His Church]

Eileen Burke-Sullivan [I like how you render so much honor to your father’s name, even equating it with  your husband’s even though “man should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife,” and “the two should become one flesh.” Obviously that’s only for men], a theologian and vice provost for mission and ministry at [Catholic in name only] Creighton University, said she sees no problem. The cathedral and the archdiocese, she said, have supported the arts in Omaha for many years. [As they have bled souls, priests, money, and influence.  Meet the problem, right here]

“In mixing thematic popular culture with the beauty of God’s creation in flowers,” she said, “I don’t think there’s any inherent idolatry.” [Note how she changed the subject, as libs are wont to do, from the banal Disney “art” to flowers and God’s creation.]

The flower festival is produced by the nonprofit Cathedral Arts Project. Its founder and director, Brother William Woeger, each year informs the archbishop of the theme.

Archbishop George Lucas was out of town this week [Of course he was!  I can’t remember the last time a bishop was actually in town to deal with one of these little flaps.  If he wasn’t on his way out of town before, as soon as news broke he was high-tailing to the airport!  I’m not certain if it’s true or not, but it seems the vast majority of bishops spend far less time in their dioceses than they do abroad.  Do you know what Thomas a Kempis says about that.] and unavailable for comment. But spokesman Tim McNeil, the current chancellor, said the archdiocese will review the festival to make sure it is staying within bounds.

He said he sees nothing in “the broad language” of the catechism that would preclude such displays as Mary Poppins being suspended from the ceiling of the cathedral. But he said it would be good to know more specifics in advance. [The catechism is just a handy reference guide.  It is not dogmatic, nor all-inclusive. It’s authors could not foresee every potential abuse even if they wanted to.  But I think many Catholics would be gravely offended to see Mary Poppins or Donald Duck or anything similar hanging over their altar, dominating, as it were] 

………In a letter of termination two days after the festival incident, Gutgsell wrote to Kenney: “None of the florists and none of the volunteers, any number of whom took time off their work or traveled some distance, had the slightest intention or reason to dishonor the Cathedral. You assigned the word ‘desecration’ to the entire project and as a result slandered anyone associated with it.” [This is specious reasoning.  Desecration can occur in absence of deliberate intent, as can scandal. But note the blame-shifting, the real source of problem is with the rector and others who OK’d this production and the “art” displays.  Kenney did not attack the “artists,” per se’, he took a stand against the decisions of the cathedral rector Gutgsell]

………Kenney, who said he confessed his sin to a priest at another Catholic church, feels “closer to God than ever.”[The author of this piece went to some length to paint Kenney as nuts.  This is a continuation of this theme, here he uses left-wing code speak to portray this guy as hearing voices in his head, or nearly so, just as Diane Sawyer tried to do to Bush ’43] He could have handled things differently, he said, and recalls walking through the cathedral in the immediate aftermath and thinking, “What did I do now?”

But he says he is at peace with it, and in a letter to the archbishop objected to “pop art” and “absurd, secular cultural icons” in the cathedral. [+99.  Good on him for the letter]

Kenney hopes that people who agree with him will speak up and that the incident sparks “conversation” about what is appropriate in a church. [Goal achieved]

I’m a bit torn on this.  Destroying property is a form of violence, which I think may have been a bit extreme in this case, but I also am increasingly convinced that the usual faithful Catholic tack of verbal complaint is not going to result in change.  If some future custodians (or anyone else) found ways to destroy objectionable “art” in the cathedral for a few years running, it’s very possible either the art, or the entire festival, would be done away with as too much hassle.  A festival of this kind is just one tiny, relatively innocuous example of the overwhelming tendency in the Church towards secularization and desacralization.  How long will we continue to stand seeing our Church turned into areligious, amoral Amchurch Corp NGO?  What if running away to the TLM isn’t an option at some future date?  What if Amchurch NGO decides to impose the post-conciliar ethos on the TLM/Ecclesia Dei communities?  Is prayer and sacrifice always the only answer?  Did the Church of say, 800 – 1800 always behave in such a pacifist manner? Did not souls carry torches around the 1st Council of Ephesus and threaten to harm the council fathers if they did not name Mary the Mother of God?  Were they wrong to do so?  What about St. Juan de Capistrano and the Crusade in the Balkans, or even St. Francis accompanying the crusade of St. Louis?

The point is, the Church has not always been so pacifist.  Many Saints did not always turn the other cheek when the faith of others was threatened. The Church has been thoroughly feminized over the past 50+ years (a religious brother coming up with a flower festival? Why not a gun show – heh?).  Perhaps this little act of rebellion could also start a conversation on the reassertion of manly virtues in the Church. Yes, you may attract more flies with honey than vinegar, but in the Church today, it’s not real honey, but a false secular saccharine concoction bad for health and worse for the faith.  And sometimes one becomes so overwhelmed with destructive sexularist flies they have to be fought with a strong pesticide.

Personally, I say good on Mark Kenney.  He took his stand, went to confession, and is ready to face the consequences.  Maybe he’s goofy in some other regards, but I don’t categorically repudiate this kind of “extreme” action.  I think if we had seen more of such over the past 50 years, much of the crisis in the Church could have been averted.  Ecclesiastical liberals, like all liberals, are bullies but particularly cowardly bullies.  Maybe there’s a broader lesson here for all of us.

I bet the cathedral does not have secular pop art for next year’s festival.



1. phlogiston1667 - March 13, 2016

WWJD? Well, scattering property and whipping those who desecrate God’s house are among the possibilities. And Mr. Kenney limited himself to the former. I’d say that’s all the restraint that anyone should expect.

2. Margaret Costello - March 13, 2016

Agree with phlogiston1667. Our Lord took whips to the merchants in the Temple and picked up tables and overturned them Himself. Bringing in a picture of “Buddha” is sacrilegious and thus it’s appropriate to destroy it. Same with Mary Poppins and other stupid secular icons. This is the Holy of Holies we are talking about. Let’s begin treating it that way. This man is a hero. The priests who accused him should be the ones going to confession. God bless~

3. Ann Malley - March 13, 2016

A “verbal” complaint to a priest and hierarchy who – oh, my – sees nothing wrong with using God’s Church as a clearing house for the inane is going to get a person no where.

The Pharisees didn’t see anything wrong with the money changers glutting up the Temple grounds. Kind of the same thing.

That said, if it’s about being a cultural hub, would they have welcomed a nude Miley Cirus on a wrecking ball? That’s where today’s culture is. How about a blood sacrifice to Baal?

Pray God our priests and religious can be taken to reeducation camps wherein they can be taught the basics of the 10 Commandments. Somebody is definitely not home upstairs and it is not the custodian.

Perhaps the diocese involved could conduct an in depth study to discern why a believing Catholic might be offended by God’s house being treated such such idiocy. What’s next? Science fairs wherein the the theory of evolution is presented via myriad student diorama?

4. Pat Scott - March 13, 2016

In my book–he used the sense his pastor does not have. Those articles he rid the church of NEEDED TO GO. THey did not belong in a Roman Catholic church—send them to a library. So I give him an A plus for DOING THE RIGHT THING!!.

5. phlogiston1667 - March 13, 2016

And remember…the SSPX is “not in full communion” with … this.

6. Tradition and Lace - March 13, 2016

Reblogged this on Tradition and Lace.

7. Daze Inde - March 13, 2016

They are supposed to put their cartoon barf in the hall — NOT the Church. Good for him. Reminds me of the scene in the Bible where the Lord was wroth over desecration of the temple, and cleansed the temple, throwing things, cart over table and said “Get these things out of here….”.

PS: Since it is the year of Mercy, the Bishop best not press charges, and rethink his own sins.

8. Faith of Our Fathers - March 13, 2016

The Guy was Religious in the right ,but of course Legally in the wrong. As was Christ when he turned the money changers tables over in The Temple ,legally he was in the wrong and that was all the Jews who were stealing from the poor cared about .I was at Vigil Mass yesterday and although it was at the end of Mass the Priest congratulated a woman who was 83 and said her daughter had come over to Scotland from America for her Mothers Birthday . The choir then started to sing Happy Birthday, I was cringing with embarrassment there’s a time and a place for singing H B and to me at the end of Holy Mass is neither the time nor the place.

Margaret Costello - March 14, 2016

I don’t see how ridding either God’s Temple in Jerusalem or this Catholic cathedral of sacrilegious items is against any law. All laws are based on God’s law, and there is no just law that says defiling the Holy of Holies is ok. If Jesus broke a just law, that means He sinned, and as we know, that is not possible. God bless~

9. Russ - March 14, 2016

Just FYI – the Creighton theologian quoted (Eileen Burke-Sullivan) has a local connection. She, for all practical purposes, ran the liturgy at All Saints parish for many years back in the 90s.

10. cenlacatholic - March 14, 2016

Tear that crap down. Good for him.

11. Magdalene - March 14, 2016

A cathedral is not the civic center which would be a place for flower shows and Mary Poppins and even a Buddha.

12. Brian E. Breslin - March 14, 2016

I’m with you Tantum. Good on the man!

twoheartswa - March 15, 2016

Judas Maccabeus on the tiny scale.

Sorry comments are closed for this entry

%d bloggers like this: