Correcting Bishop Rhoades and the Journal-Sentinel

Here is the meat of what I sent to the paper today, correcting the inaccurate articles which ran Oct. 15, in both the morning and evening editions of the paper:

First, neither I nor the parish of Holy Redeemer Catholic Community have
ever represented ourselves to be “Roman” Catholic.  I have never claimed to be a
Roman priest or a member of this diocese, though I am a validly ordained
Catholic priest.  It is clear to all who read the parish website, who come to
Mass and pick up a brochure explaining who we are, or who attend Mass where I
welcome everyone to receive Eucharist,  that we are not a Roman Catholic
parish.  This will become more evident in the weeks to come when the Roman
churches adopt a modified translation of the Mass, while our parish has voted to
keep using the current translation.  In the four short years of our ministry, I
have had the privilege of giving communion and other sacraments to persons of
nearly all the Christian denominations, as well as to Muslims, Jews, and
Buddhists.  This, I believe with all my heart and soul, is exactly what Jesus
would have me do.  It is the meaning of the word “catholic.”
Second, the inchoate organization, Reformed Catholic Communion, is not a
denomination.  At this point, it is merely a proposed umbrella organization, a
federation of independent Catholic churches around the country and in Europe.
Negotiations with other interested Catholic parishes, including former Roman
parishes (priests and people both) who have left their dioceses over the sex
abuse scandals, closing of parishes, etc… have just begun.  There are no
official pronouncements, declarations or policies pertaining to the ordination
of women, married men or gays.  I have my own opinions, of course, but these
issues have not even been discussed with potential member parishes at this
point.  (The interview you did with me in 2008 when I was a member of another
jurisdiction has nothing to do with Holy Redeemer Catholic Community or with the
Reformed Catholic Communion.  We have been 100% independent since 2009.)
Third, Bishop Rhoades, like many, misunderstands the word “Catholic” to be
synonymous with “Roman Catholic”, despite the fact that there are 17 Churches in
full union with Rome who are also Catholic, but quite proud to be non-Roman.  He
also misapprehends the official position of the Roman Catholic Church in regard
to what constitutes these other Catholic churches.  In a 2000 document (“Dominus
Iesus”), officially promulgated by Pope John Paul II, (written by then Cardinal
Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI) clearly recognizes other non-Roman churches
as “Catholic”:
“Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the
Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in
communion with him.  The Churches which, while not existing in perfect
communion with the (Roman)Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the
closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true
particular Churches.  Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative
also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the (Roman)
Catholic Church…
Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such…have
by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of
salvation.  For the spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means
of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and
truth entrusted to the Catholic Church
.”  (IV Unicity and Unity of the
Church, Paragraph 17)
Fourth, and last, neither the parish of Holy Redeemer Catholic Community
nor myself have any desire to confuse Roman Catholics who wish to remain Roman.
We have no interest in plundering parishioners from other churches.  Our sole
vocation is to reach out to those who either feel rejected by their churches or
who feel their understanding of their faith has evolved beyond the parameters of
their institutional church:  the divorced and remarried, the gays and lesbians,
the ones who use artificial birth control, the ones who cannot accept every
doctrine,  those who do not wish to perjure themselves in order to obtain an
annulment, or the ones who feel victimized by the myriad of manmade
regulations.  We are Catholic because we profess the same
faith, we celebrate the same seven sacraments, we accept every doctrine of the
Roman Catholic Church, and because I, as a validly ordained Catholic priest with
legitimate apostolic succession, provide this community with the sacraments,
sound teaching and spiritual guidance.

About frmichelrcc

I have a degree in religious studies from the University of Wisconsin, did graduate work in theology at St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin, and also at St. Paul's University in Ottawa. I have been a Benedictine since I first professed as an oblate in 1982, making final profession in 2009. I have worked as vocations director in a large diocese in the mid-west and am a spiritual director in the Benedictine tradition. I have 3 sons, one of whom is now in God's loving embrace in eternity, and 2 grandsons, Bradley and Jacob.
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3 Responses to Correcting Bishop Rhoades and the Journal-Sentinel

  1. Tony Dombrowski says:


    You use the word “doctrine” twice in the last section of the document. I think you need to differentiate between “accepting every major Doctrine of the Roman Church proclaimed through the first 10 Ecumenical Councils” from “people who cannot every practice or man-made discipline of their church”.

    • frmichelrcc says:

      We accept more doctrines that just the Ecumenical Councils, including the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption. My point was that there are people in our parish right now who struggle with some of the traditional doctrinal teachings (e.g., they aren’t sure Jesus is fully God, or they can’t accept a literal virgin birth, etc…) and these people, too, have been welcomed and accepted. Christianity isn’t so much orthodoxy as orthopraxis…not so much what we believe as what we do in the world.

  2. Cris says:

    Thank you for explaining the difference.

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