15 June 2010

Archbishop Carlson Visits St. Cronan

(The above photo was taken by Joan Kiburz and appears at STLToday. It pictures the Archbishop at St. Cronan Parish, with a beaming Fr. Kleba, who appears to be holding a stuffed puppy dog with a plastic bag over its head.)

This is an excerpt from a post by Tim Townsend at the STLToday religion blog:

Archbishop Carlson visits St. Cronan’s, Kleba

By Tim Townsend
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Continuing his march of reconciliation, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson celebrated Mass at St. Cronan Catholic Church in St. Louis Saturday.

In his year as head of the Catholic church here, Carlson has celebrated Mass at scores of churches. So what’s the big deal that he was at St. Cronan’s?

Some history:

In November 2007, two women were ordained as priests in a group called Roman Catholic Womenpriests. The ordinations were hosted by Central Reform Congregation, though they were not recognized by the church, which does not ordain women as priests.... Four months later, Burke – who is now the prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, or supreme court - declared the two women excommunicated.

A month after the ordinations, the pastoral leadership of St. Cronan’s – known for its progressive social activism – asked CRC’s rabbi, Susan Talve, to an Advent vespers service. ... about 150 St. Cronan members gathered under a tarp in the street next to the church and held the service – with Talve – in the freezing rain.

The two ordained Womenpriests – Rose Marie Hudson and Elsie Hainz McGrath – were there. As were Seán Collins and Sister Louise Lears – the two members of St. Cronan’s pastoral team under the church’s pastor, the Rev. Gerald Kleba. Both Collins and Lears had also been to the Womenpriest ordinations at CRC. Kleba did not attend the ordinations, and was not at the prayer gathering in the rain outside his church a month later. ... The archbishop eventually placed Lears under the canonical penalty of interdict.

Two weeks after Lears’ original hearing, Kleba was also summoned to meet with Burke. Kleba later said Burke told him the archbishop believed the vespers service with Talve had been organized “to undermine his role as leader of the diocese.”

...Carlson seems to have been on a war path of reconciliation. He made a point to tell the press, on the anniversary of his first year in St. Louis that he had worked “very closely with St. Louis University,” and was “back on the board at Cardinal Glennon.”

Burke had a strained relationship with St. Louis University’s president, the Rev. Lawrence Biondi. He resigned from the board of Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center Foundation over the appearance of singer Sheryl Crow at a benefit concert because of her support for embryonic stem cell research.

“Every journey begins with a first step,” Carlson said last week. “Maybe that would characterize my year.”

And then he went to St. Cronan’s.


Anonymous said...

I just saw this. Ugh. The dog in plastic wrap....Carlson looks like he's undoing all that Abp Burke did. If he wants to take a lighter tone than Abp. Burke, fine, and actively seek reconciliation by approaching the dissenters and disobeyers, fine. But it looks like he's "repairing" relationships that he has perceived Burke to have damaged...Or the media is reporting it as such. We dont' know what Abp. Carlson has said to any of these folks about getting with the program of obedience and faithfulness. So...?

Fenian said...

Once again, Townsend frames the issue as a simple juxtaposition of crotchety old Burke and friendly Carlson.

Is that what Townsend believes to be true or is it in an attempt create a good vs evil, old vs new narrative for mass consumption?

Anonymous said...

The mind reels. But who knows? His Excellency is, according to a past Post story, "a Cabinet member of the Interfaith Partnership." Perhaps it is his job to attend churches of non-Catholic faiths, like St. Cronan's.

Anonymous said...

So after what looked like it was going to be a glorious resurgence under Archbishop Burke, the Archdiocese is again sliding back to the watered-down fever swamps of NewChurch.

De profundis clamavi ad te Domine. . .

Peter said...

I just really pray that Archbishop is holding Fr. Kelba to his vows as a priest and the faith of the Church. I hate that Archbishop Burke (the Magnus) is being so villified. God Willing, Archbishop Carlson will show the strength that Burke did with these dissidents.

StGuyFawkes said...

This could be purest spin. Or His Excellancy may be giving our little "social justice" parish the green light to just go on hosting "women's liturgies" concelebrated by Hudson and McGrath.

Probably what we have here is some kind of compromise where Cronan's escapes supression and has to tone down the public side of their apostasy.

If you are really worried about His Excellancy becoming our local version of Archbishop Hunthausen the thing to do is watch and see if Monseignor Gardin stays on as V.G.

Remember that in Fr. Kleba's published notes on his confrontation with Archbishop Burke he mentions Monseignor Gardin's persistant advice to urge confession on his gay parishioners.

Quite right. I think if Monseignor Gardin's sage pastoral advice to pursue "reconciliation" in its truer sense (penance) gets lost in the dialogue then we know that ARchbishop Carlson is going to "chiudere un'occhio" -- as the Italians say -- to the whole orgy on Boyle.

Anonymous said...

Guys, cool it & chill out...Catholicism is a "big tent". A "conservative" "priest" (and moral theologian, btw) told me so.

PBR Photography said...

Peggy, I agree with you. I am a little fearful that Archbishop Carlson may be taking a bit too liberal approach to his leadership here in St. Louis. He, in my opinion is going around and "undoing" everything that Burke accomplished/started. I think it is important that the Archbishop stop seeking the approval of the city / media and begin focusing on keeping the doctrine of the faith alive and prudent here in St Louis. I have tremendous respect for Archbishop Burke because he wasn't afraid to do the unpopular if he believed it was in contrast to the teachings of the Church. Fr Biondi, is a very liberal priest. A priest who also thinks that he can do whatever he wants regardless of what the Church teaches. I applaud Burke for all that he has done for to restore the faith here in St. Louis. I pray the Carlson will come around.

Anonymous said...

I think we have to be careful how much we read into this. Archbishop Carlson, as shepherd of the Catholics of St. Louis, has a duty to visit ALL of the parishes of the Archdiocese from time to time. So long as St. Cronan's remains an active parish under the control of the Archdiocese, Archbishop Carlson should visit it just like he would any other parish. If anything, those people are in more need of seeing the Archbishop and influenced by his presence than any other parish in the Archdiocese.

The problem here is that the Post-Dispatch has taken it upon itself, as a member of the liberal media, to stir up controversy against Archbishop Burke and the Catholic Church in general. No where in this article does Archbishop Carlson say he went to St. Cronan's for reconciliation. That thought is only there because Tim Townsend put it there.

Honestly, I could have written the reverse article three months ago: "Archbishop Carlson follows in his predecessor's conservative footsteps by preaching at St. Francis de Sales Oratory after less than a year on the job. One would have expected Carlson to be visiting parishes that have Diocesan priests and large congregations, but instead he has chosen to make a statement by celebrating mass with those who follow the Tridentine or Extraordinary Form." It is all in how you spin it.

Clearly we were spoiled under Archbishop Burke, and most of the readers of this blog, myself included, miss him. However, lets give the new Archbishop some time to get his feet wet. It takes some time to know for certain how certain people feel and act. Maybe Archbishop Carlson wanted to see first-hand if St. Cronan's was as bad as he had heard (clearly it is by the picture of Fr. Kleba), or wanted to begin the process of turning it around by personally celebrating Mass at the parish. But it is unfair to rush to a judgment of the man for merely celebrating mass in one of his parishes.

Another thing we must be careful of here is comparing Archbishop Burke's handling of certain situations to that of Archbishop Carlson. As far as I'm aware, there have not been any of the following since Archbishop Carlson arrived: women's "ordinations", (new) polish parish rebellions, "Catholic" politicians running for president, basketball coaches supporting pro-abortion candidates, or pro-abortion stars hosting charity events for a major Catholic institution. Archbishop Burke, whether purely coincidentally or media fueled, faced A LOT of major issues while Archbishop of St. Louis. Until Archbishop Carlson faces similar tough decisions and media scrutiny, it is unfair to judge him against his predecessor's actions.

Let me close by including one final point of thought: Even Archbishop Burke never closed St. Cronan's or removed Fr. Kleba as pastor, the latter of which would have been relatively easy to do at any time. How then can we criticize Archbishop Carlson for saying mass at a parish that Archbishop Burke left open, and with a priest that Archbishop Burke did not remove?

- YoungCatholicSTL

StGuyFawkes said...

Dear YoungCatholicSTL,

You may be Catholic, and a St. Louisan but as for being "young" you are wise beyond your years.

What you wrote was very, very good. I especially liked your rehearsal of the "reverse" story that could have been written by the Post.

We don't know anything about where this is going and Post wants us to think they know everything.

Hope you post again.

St. Guy

Anonymous said...

Bravo, YoungCatholicSTL and St. Guy.

There is a difference between being media savvy and an apostate, and to rush to judgment that because Carlson may be the former that he is automatically the latter is a dangerous leap in logic.

Prekast said...

"Clearly we were spoiled under Archbishop Burke"...

It is unfortunate that we feel "spoiled" with an ABP. who teaches the Magisterium of the Church.

Springtime of Vatican II?

Anonymous said...

Any chance this picture was taken 3 minutes before Mass or 10 minutes after Mass, rather than during the actual procession? Any chance at all that a small child had just handed the wrapped toy to Fr. Kleba as a gift, seeing that the man just got some good news about his health? Any chance that none of us know the full story about why this priest who has served God's people for over forty years, often in very poor and dangerous neighborhoods, is holding the toy in this picture? It just seems to me that the Pharisees condemned Jesus and his disciples on similarly speculative grounds. Maybe we would all do well to not assume something awful is afoot based on what we see in this picture. (For my part, I am glad to see that both Fr. Kleba and the Archbishop seem to find joy in gathering together with God's people. Something tells me that Jesus may have smiled on occasion as well.)

StGuyFawkes said...

The full story explains the toy dog as a gift to the Archbishop from a gradeschool class which discovered that he likes dogs. I don't think the toy pup is necessarily a prop in some kind of "clown Mass."

Another detail of the photo strikes the eye: It's nice that Fr. Kleba seems to be in good health judging by his face.

Again, I don't think we're going to see His Excellancy "close an eye" (as the Vaticanistas say) to "women's liturgies" and celebrations of same sex marriages.

He's got to visit all the parishes in his diocese. This is just one more. St. Paul did the same. I seem to remember his visiting some socially conscious parish called, was it "Corinth."

Let's not rush to judgement.

pfinley said...

IN Fairness too - This is HIS management style - He is very personable

During big events, (like my 4th degree mass) people like to go through a litany of introductions, and especialy large masses "Greetings to this person, hello to them, our honored guests blah blah blah"

Carlson's first words in his Homily - "I will dispense with the litany of greetings - Hi Everybody"

He had a barbeque for his welcoming dinner

Carlson IS VERY MUCH a people person, so he is different from Burke in that respect

He also does have a history of being orthodox, just not the style that Burke was

So people need to make sure they distiguish style from application

I know the woman chancellor thing frightens some of the Ultra Traditionalists in St Louis, And also that he didnt just crown people at St Cronan's with his crozier. But we also DONT know what goes on behind the scenes

Just like St Stans. No one knew what happened behind the scense for a century - They just knew about what burke HAD TO DO for it.

People , Relax, Trust in the Holy Spirit - This man was apppointed by benedict, the Pope of Unity, and a very Orthodox pope - I highly doubt, he is incorrect in this regards.

Believe me - I think St Cronan's needs some DRASTIC changes , but what happens with these parishes is more the people then the Priest. Its a little harder for BIshops to deal with mass amounts of people, especially now adays

Sure he could pronounce excommunication on the lot of them - But what does that accomplish spiritually? The attitude in the parish is of such descent, that you cause a bigger problem

Anonymous said...

I know Archbishop Carlson and think he will solve the situation in his own savy way. He will move these people on but doing it in a way that makes it look to them as if he is doing them a good favour. He will be buddies them suggest they think of things they would really like to do. He will encourage them to take the risk then goodbye. They leave happy but in fact they have been got rid off.

Anonymous said...


You are right to say that:


Absolutely, we must assume the best of the shepherd that has been given to us.

There were, however, new attempted "ordinations" of women in St. Louis in October of last year, on 10/1/2009. See the press release

The Archdiocese of St. Louis had no official response to this attempted "ordination" in contrast to the Archdiocese of Chicago and the diocese of Venice where other simulations of the sacrament of Holy Orders took place.

I just report here. Archbishop Carlson is perfectly orthodox in this matter and has`his own style.

JBQ said...

There is a comment of June 15 in regard to Vernon Gardin and confession for gays. It was stated that we should wait to see the response to Gardin by Carlson. He has now been "thrown under the bus" and replaced as chancellor. I read this as stating that gay relationships are no longer a "matter of sin". It would also appear that Carlson made an effort to "reconcile with the devil".

thetimman said...

JBQ, Msgr. Gardin was not chancellor. He was a Vicar General of the Archdiocese. I make no comment about him or his successor, just setting the record straight.