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Thursday, February 12, 2004

Methinks I'm going to get a scolding from more "ecumenical" quarters for this, but I don't much care.

Try as I might, I don't have a big problem with what the SSPX protesters did at the Basilica of St. Adalbert in Grand Rapids yesterday. OK--I didn't try really hard, but that's neither here nor there.

Three caveats: First, I truly feel sorry for the Buddhist monks, innocent and doubtless well-meaning men who had no clue about why what they were doing was wrong and suddenly found themselves in the middle of no-man's land.

Second, I don't believe that Bishop Kevin Britt is the antichrist's caddy for permitting the Buddhists to visit in some capacity. From what I hear, he's a decent fellow who did good yeoman's work back here in the Detroit archdiocese. Remember, he just became the sole bishop for GR after a stint as co-adjutor.

Finally, I am fully aware of the problems with the Society, and I do not endorse it. I find a lot (but not all) of the culture and theology of the SSPX unreasonable, repellent or worse--especially the rampant hatred of Jews. See, e.g., Williamson, Bishop Richard. That said, I think a lot of decent Catholics go past their breaking point and end up in the Society for reasons which are far from repellent.

[Sound of Qualifier Roaring in at Mach 5]

But, consider this:

Either way, the sound [of the Rosary] was so loud and so distracting, the Tibetan monks didn't get to perform at the altar.

For the love of Mary, did the monks have to pray at the altar?




The correct answer is: "No, of course not." What about the Basilica parish hall? The diocesan conference center? It's pretty clear the monks don't need to be on someone else's sacred ground to display their faith. After all, they went to Grand Valley State University for another service this morning. GVSU has a world-beater of a Division II football team, but it is not exactly holy ground. Even to alums.

Look at it this way: we don't let RCIA members approach the altar for the Body and Blood until eight months of preparation have been completed, and the proper initiatory sacraments received. The altar of communion is otherwise closed to non-Catholics--excluding rare exceptions. We expect the faithful to bow to the altar, and genuflect before the tabernacle, all out of respect for He who re-presents Himself on our behalf. Why should anyone else get a free pass?

Then there's the...oddity...of this ceremony taking place over the relics of a martyr who died rather than compromise his faith. Someone--probably several someones--knew or should have known better.

Bluntly, with regard to the Diocese invoking Assisi--that dog won't hunt. Putting aside my own misgivings (here's a worthy defense of Assisi), even that gathering imposed limits on worship, such as the incident where Buddhists tried to pray at the Cathedral altar:

The incident of Buddhists erecting an idol on the altar in the Cathedral occurred spontaneouly and without permission. The tabernacle was not removed as some have said. In most European cathedrals, there never has been a tabernacle on the main altar. When the Franciscans found out what was happening, they immediately informed the Buddhists that this was not acceptable and the Buddhists apologized and withdrew to another location off Church grounds for their worship.

Nope. No excuses. I'm not saying Catholics and Buddhists shouldn't talk. But it's clear that the dialogue was all one way here, and someone refused to explain to the Buddhists the potential for sacriliege (what other word is there) and scandal, as the Franciscans did at Assisi. So the demonstrators did instead. Good thing someone did--especially since the "contact the priest first" attempt to address it was shrugged off.

For what it's worth, my theory is that the problem originates with the staff at the Basilica. Go to the Basilica's website, then click on "Positive Living." All the Ennegram, Confucianism, Eugene Kennedy and Harold Kushner "God is impotent" theology you can stand.

The enneagram. Good Lord: how dated is that? In addition to being occult twaddle, it's so late-'80s-Jesuit-Retreat.

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