The following came in a Feb. 19 email from one of our readers:
“An ex-priest, who I believe was a longtime Santa Clara University staffer, put out an ugly screed against Archbishop Cordileone on Ash Wednesday. Instead of wearing ashes, readers of the San Jose Mercury News were treated to the bitterness of an ex-priest who must have slept through his seminary moral theology classes. It was a litany of progressive Catholic bromides about conscience, dissent on sexual issues, and a faux appeal to Pope Francis. Even by the depraved standards of ‘wafer thin’ Silicon Catholicism it was a particularly sordid piece.”
James M. Purcell
Special to the Mercury News
Posted: 02/17/2015 10:00:00 AM
“I want my bishops to smell like their sheep,” said Pope Francis in the first year of his pontificate. San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone seems to interpret the Pope’s statement in an interesting and rather narrow way: choose the sheep who smell like me and drive the rest away!
How else to explain his recent actions to impose such a misguided interpretation of “Catholic Identity” on the teachers and administrators of the four Catholic High Schools directly under his control? It is reminiscent of a medieval lord who surrounds himself with like-minded loyalists and imposes his will on everyone else, whether they like it or not.
The Archbishop has arbitrarily decided to revise the faculty handbook for Marin Catholic High School in Marin County, Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory and Riordan High Schools in San Francisco and Serra High School in San Mateo. A new section of the handbook puts teachers and staff on notice about heightened demands regarding adherence to Catholic teaching, particularly on sexual issues.
He is also proposing new language in their contract that reclassifies teachers as “ministers”, raising the possibility of attempting to evade workplace discrimination laws.
Make no mistake: this is about power and control and about who is to be trusted and who is not to be trusted. Clearly, the Archbishop does not trust his school administrators to hire (and if necessary to terminate) teachers who embrace a Catholic identity that would include acknowledgement of the primacy of conscience in one’s moral decision-making.
Did the Archbishop consult with any leading Catholic moral theologians who might see things differently on issues like artificial birth control, in vitro fertilization, masturbation, or gay/lesbian couples adopting children who have been abused and neglected? I doubt it.
Before imposing the new contract and handbook language, did the Archbishop consult with his two auxiliary bishops, both of whom have had extensive pastoral experience in parish ministry? I doubt it. He certainly didn’t consult with his priests or his Priests’ Council.
Did the Archbishop sit down with and listen to even one of his teachers who has gone through the painful process of divorce from a first sacramental marriage and then found the love of his or her life in a second marriage, only to be denied access to the Eucharist? Has he ever publicly taught about the Church’s compassionate response to a situation like this through what is known as the “internal forum”?
Does the Archbishop understand the Church’s long-standing theological principle that a “teaching” or “law” that is not “received” by the faithful has little or no authority in helping them form their consciences?
The Archbishop’s actions have created a climate of fear and deepened mistrust in the very place where parents are looking for safety and respect: his Catholic high schools. The students understand this, and so do many of the parents and most of all, the teachers and administrators. Does he understand or care?
It is time for all people of good will who proudly call themselves Catholic and who refuse to allow one man to define that term by himself to stand together. I will be standing with students, parents and teachers in front of the San Francisco Cathedral in prayer and vigil this Ash Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. I invite others who claim a Catholic identity to join us.
James M. Purcell of Los Gatos is a former Catholic priest who served in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. He wrote this for this newspaper.
Santa Clara University’s farewell press release to Purcell in 2009:
“We have been blessed by [Purcell’s] inspiring dedication, humanity, and passion for SCU,” said Michael Engh, S.J., president of SCU. “He has been a successful leader, administrator, and spokesperson in advancing the goals of the University in countless ways. My best wishes and congratulations go out to Jim for this next phase of his professional career.”
Purcell’s reflections in a 2010 Santa Clara Magazine:
“A phone call comes from SCU President Paul Locatelli’s office. He wants to meet with me. He wants to know if I would be interested in the position of vice president of university relations at SCU…. Fr. Locatelli talks about his vision of educating men and women of competence, conscience, and compassion. It is a vision that reminds me of my days in Rome and the excitement of the Second Vatican Council and its hopes for the future of the Church.
Since this guy is an X-Priest, why doesn’t he just mind his own business – which is no longer “Catholic” ? ? ? ?
I’m sick of heretics trying to run the Church !
What we do is ZERO of their business.
James M. Purcell of Los Gatos must be a DEMOCRAT; they want to control what EVERYONE does and says.
Pope Francis never stated that Bishops should go out and commit SODOMY, ADULTERY, or FORNICATION.
These sins STINK and worse – send Souls to HELL if there is no repentance and amendment not to sin again.
These Sins were not approved by Vatican II. What a LIAR !
Santa Clara University needs to RESPOND to this EVIL man.
Between Purcell (who thinks Catholicism is just like Church of England), a Jesuit president of SCU (you know how the Jesuits are nowadays) and Vatican II (the mistake we are still paying for), it’s the same old story.
Purcell is an EX-PRIEST and an obvious LIAR! He certainly does NOT love the Church, nor her “sheep!” He left the priesthood! Why did he not also LEAVE THE CHURCH?? Such people DO NOT BELONG in Church teaching jobs!!
Linda Maria, because loses their vocation to the priesthood does not mean they should leave the church. They take up another vocation and serve the church in other ways. I think it is uncharitable to suggest that all former priest must leave. In actuality, we want to keep them, don’t you agree?
Not if he’s an episcopalian. If he wants a “church” that caters to his twisted faith of the god of Jim, they’ll accommodate whatever he wants and does. He’s not a Catholic and he should do himself a genuine service and admit that to himself instead of being a blithering idiot and leave. It is thankful to know he’s no longer a priest, and now everyone knows he’s no longer a Catholic, and maybe he will too soon.
Sordid indeed, particularly given the link to Santa Clara – which is a Fortress of Gaystapo Misandry, such as pervades its alleged Law school faculty.
These people feed off the same Church they want to destroy, and are ‘proud’ to fleece the faithful in order to push their own share of Abomination:
Wayward Catholic Universities Pose Significant Threat to Church’s Survival
1-18-15 Kimberly Scharfenberger
Catholic colleges and universities casting off their religious identity are jeopardizing the Catholic Church’s presence in America, argued John Zmirak in a recent article at The Stream. Zmirak pointed to recent scandals at Catholic institutions to illustrate the problems with much of Catholic higher education.
The cultural shift in Catholic academia to secularism “prevents the development of a faithful Catholic ‘elite,’ which will go on to teach, research, write and advocate in the public square for the Church’s vision of a just and moral society,” warned Zmirak, who now serves as senior editor of The Stream…
Let’s look at objective standards of the current and past administration and faculty. How many of these schools have generated vocations to the priesthood or religious life. How many Catholic student that attended these schools know their faith and attend weekly mass? How many times does a teacher make a directed or indirect dis at Catholic doctrine? How many of these students or alums have gone to confession during and after their time at the schools? Do the students see the faculty or staff at masses, confession or taking communion at school masses?
I have to agree somewhat that the statement of faith is arbitrary,
I wish it contained all of the 10 Commandments.
I wish it has affirmed the immorality of taking the Lord’s name in vain and keeping holy the Lord’s day by not working or shopping.
I wish it had affirmed the necessity of fulfilling one’s duties to parents, church and local authorities and all other superiors and of obedience to them in all things except sin but also affirmed the love with which one should treat other people whether they are superiors, underlings or peers.
I wish it had affirmed the wrongness of idols and of worshipping false gods and of superstitions and occult practices.
It wish it had affirmed the immorality of suicide. and all kinds of theft.
I wish it had affirmed the righteousness of strict honesty.
It really didn’t talk about how to love God and one’s neighbor.
I wish it had enumerated the virtues necessary to be a good teacher and the pathways to strengthen those virtues.
Oh well, at least he started…
Or prohibit domestic abuse, racism, gossip, drunk driving, cursing…etc.
At my son’s school, he could be expelled if a parent gossips about teachers or staff with other parents instead of bringing the problem to the attention of the teacher directly or to the principle.
These things should be taught in Catholic sermons all the time. I will not go to any Catholic Church that does not teach them quite regularly, and, thank God, there are several Catholic churches in my area that do. Do these people even go to a Catholic church? I doubt it.
Archbishop Cordileone does not have the luxury of believing like this person. He is a bishop of the Catholic Church. Maybe he is tired of seeing kids come out of Catholic schools completely ignorant of the faith and totally screwed up morally.
Yes, AND his Soul will be judged by his actions on earth.
Diocese Bishops have a huge responsibility for teaching, and disciplining others when necessary.
The Souls of many Bishops (and some Popes) will probably not be Saved, based upon their own actions (sins of both commission and omission) on earth.
Anonymous – right on! Tho’ why would one consider it ” the luxury of believing like this person”……sorry but that’s a luxury that leads one directly to hell…….but then again who believes in hell anymore, right!
GO GET THEM ARCHBISHOP!
When I was an undergraduate at Dominican College of San Rafael, CA (now Dominican University of California) I lived with my parents in Novato, CA and was a day student at college. This man, the former Father James Purcell, was an associate at my parish. I used to think the world of him and used to attend a weekly adult discussion group that he led. He had just been ordained, after spending his theology days at the North American College in Rome while attending the Gregorian University. Well fast forward almost fifty years. I also had the gift of being able to spend almost seven years in Rome as a student at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. After reading this piece by the former “Father” Purcell I am sick to my stomach. It is hard to believe that he has sunk to such a low. I am sure that he must have slept through some of his moral theology classes. I have double Licenses in Moral Theology and Canon Law. I was never taught, and have never heard of such a thing as the “long standing theological principle that a ‘teaching’ or ‘law’ that is not received by the faithful has little or no authority in helping them form their consciences.” Of course this is very handy dissenters principle is most useful to people like James Purcell and others who would like to re-write theology to suit them.
Mr. Purcell certainly has a right to make his opinion known, but it is worthless, beyond a couple of observations:
1. Impact of Pope Francis: Notwithstanding some traditional/conservative Catholic media types, it is important to note that what the Pope says does matter. Why? Among other things, it gives cover to Zombie-Liberals, like Purcell, who can use the Pope’s words to support Purcell’s anti-Catholic rantings. And, sadly, the Pope seems to reflect nothing more than the political conqueror, setting out to eliminate his “dissenters” from within, while he seeks to force institutional conformity to his will, even if it against the Faith. We will see what happens in October, but the recent legal actions by Fr. Roscia are most telling — a true stalking horse against what Vatican insiders have seen as the one force they cannot control: a free and vibrant Catholic media an bloggisphere.
2. Confusing Correcting Catholic Fidelity With Political Power: Purcell also sees Archbishops Cordileone’s efforts as little more than forcing out “people of good will” from Catholic education, and jobs. So what if the Archbishop is redefining Catholic school positions more accurately? He is avoiding the ongoing and common scandal of SF Catholic schools simply dismissing the True Faith from their teaching mission. The Archbishop is not unmindful of human suffering, but he leads the Roman Catholc Church in San Francisco, not the State welfare agency, or group therapy session.
Purcell and those to whom he refers are “self-defining” Catholics.
The good Archbishop is behaving like a true shepherd, unlike so many others. I would be proud to have him as my spiritual leader. Mr. Purcell gave up his right to opine about Abp. Cordileone when he abandoned his post as a priest and joined the laity. A man who cannot stick to his vows has little credibility. Go and join the Episcopalians, you’ll fit right in.
Archbishop Cordileone is only teaching what is in the examination of conscience in every approved Catholic prayer book and catechism, including the latest one. Evidently, many people do not read them or agree with them. Of course a person’s culpability depends on the situation, That is why there are marriage tribunals for annulments — to get at the truth.
If one doesn’t go to confession, why would they bother doing an examination of conscience??
Then why are even in a Catholic school?
Correction: Then why are they even in a Catholic school?
It is a Mortal Sin for any Catholic not to go to Confession at least once a year.
See “Precepts of the Church” – CCC: 2041 – 2043.
CCC: ” 1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility.
This is the case when a man takes little trouble to find out what is true and good,
or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.
In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits. ”
There is very little legitimate excuse for most of the LITERATE to feign ignorance on any topic of Faith and Morals
because the CCC is available throughout the world.
I would add “hopefully”.
I added “hopefully” as I have had people tell me flat out that they lied to a priest or judge in order to get married. Of course, unless the situation is rectified, these marriages end up in divorce because they were founded on lies. It also makes one wonder how many people lie to marriage tribunals to get their annulments. Of course, that is no fault of the members of the tribunals unless they encourage it. That is why the Good Lord is always the final judge of our deeds.
It amazes me that people like this Purcell speak out so publicly. They seem oblivious–or maybe simply very frightened so that they whistle loudly–of the change that is blowing in the wind. A wind of stalwart Catholicism that is going to blow their not very weighty ideas away.
I would like to add that during my final year as a student in Rome ’86-’87, I met Father Cordileone, a priest of the Diocese of San Diego, who was studying canon law at the Gregorian. The previous summer I had been hired by the late Bishop Maher to begin working as a canonist for the Diocese of San Diego just as soon as I finished my license. I began working in San Diego in September ’87, while the future Archbishop stayed in Rome for his doctorate. We eventually did have the opportunity of working together in the Tribunal in San Diego. I can state categorically that Archbishop Cordileone is a brilliant canonist, very caring and pastoral, a very simple, kind, compassionate person. May God continue to shower him with blessings and graces, and prosper the work of his hands. Ad multos annos.
Thanks for sharing Mary Jo.
Saint Peter Damian (1007-1072)
Doctor of the Church, cardinal and a great reformer of the clergy, Saint Peter Damian wrote his famous Book of Gomorrah against the inroads made by homosexuality among the clergy. He describes not only the iniquity of homosexuality, but also its psychological and moral consequences:
“Truly, this vice is never to be compared with any other vice because it surpasses the enormity of all vices.… It defiles everything, stains everything, pollutes everything. And as for itself, it permits nothing pure, nothing clean, nothing other than filth.…
“The miserable flesh burns with the heat of lust; the cold mind trembles with the rancor of suspicion; and in the heart of the miserable man chaos boils like Tartarus [Hell]…. In fact, after this most poisonous serpent once sinks its fangs into the unhappy soul, sense is snatched away, memory is borne off, the sharpness of the mind is obscured. It becomes unmindful of God and even forgetful of itself. This plague undermines the foundation of faith, weakens the strength of hope, destroys the bond of charity; it takes away justice, subverts fortitude, banishes temperance, blunts the keenness of prudence.
“And what more should I say since it expels the whole host of the virtues from the chamber of the human heart and introduces every barbarous vice as if the bolts of the doors were pulled out.”
Mr. Purcell forgets that long before Pope Francis issued his famous smell of the sheep remark, the Good Shepherd spoke about the shepherd defending the flock. Archbishop Cordileone is stepping up to his biblical role as a shepherd serving in defense of the flock– and now the wolves within the confines of the flock and wolves circling the flock are howling.
FrMichael, what I am noticing is that these Catholic schools have developed a culture that is different from the culture of the Church. If you have recruited students (or teachers) by saying that you are inclusive, welcoming and diverse, or worse-by saying that “we are Catholic, but we don’t push our religion on anybody” the Archbishop’s notice could be a deal-breaker. Although I haven’t heard of parents threatening to quit just the teachers.
Nobody’s ever accused the Catholic Church of being inclusive and diverse. Racially and ethnically, yes. But not religiously.
“Did the Archbishop consult with any leading Catholic moral theologians who might see things differently on issues like artificial birth control, in vitro fertilization, masturbation, or gay/lesbian couples adopting children who have been abused and neglected?”
Leading Catholic moral theologians don’t determine Church doctrine, Mr. Purcell. Nor, once given, can it be overturned.
I can’t believe the audacity of the good archbishop expecting Catholic teachers to conform to Catholic teachings while teaching our Catholic children in a CATHOLIC school. What next?