Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Archbishop Burke on Golden Compass review; Fr. Euteneuer again calls for firing of reviewer

I'm still catching up on some things. Also, some things were a little later coming than I expected. I had looked for a press release from Human Life International with Fr. Tom Euteneuer's plea to the USCCB to fire Harry Forbes over the review of The Golden Compass, which has since been pulled. A press release is available and it is ablaze. From the HLI website. Emphasis in bold, mine:

Fr. Euteneuer asks Bishops to Fire Scandalous Movie Reviewer

FRONT ROYAL, VA — The Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, STL, president of Human Life International, (HLI) today called on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to fire Harry Forbes, director of the Office for Film and Broadcasting of the Conference, for his positive reviews of immoral or anti-Catholic films on the Conference’s Catholic News Service (CNS).

Father Euteneuer said, “I refuse to believe that Harry Forbes, who gave such glowing remarks to the homosexual promo film Brokeback Mountain and the atheist indoctrination flick The Golden Compass, speaks in the name of our bishops. An employee who shames our bishops with reviews of this sort should be fired. He now has a track record and is not worthy to be a public spokesperson for any Catholic let alone the national conference of bishops. I urgently ask the bishops to correct this anomaly at the headquarters and restore the dignity of the conference, which has been sullied by this man.

There seems to be a decades-old pattern of embarrassment on the part of some USCCB subordinates and other lay officials when it comes to the teachings of the Catholic Church. All too often these scandals involve matters of homosexuality. In 1987 we had the document ‘The Many Faces of AIDS’ which was problematic on the use of condoms, then in 1997 the scandalous document ‘Always our Children’ so distorted Catholic teaching that it had to be rewritten after its release.”

Father Euteneuer continued, “Then in December, 2005, Forbes’s review of Brokeback Mountain with its original ‘L’ rating for ‘Limited’ had to be corrected and reclassified as ‘O’ for ‘Morally Objectionable.’ The bishops have been embarrassed by their staff like clockwork for almost 20 years. Now, in December 2007, the bishops have had to withdraw Forbes’s review of The Golden Compass from CNS after publication. After major scandals involving homosexual clergy, do we really need their movie reviewer now tiptoeing around hostile atheism?

“Let Harry Forbes be the sign that the bishops can break the cycle of subtle and overt dissent among their subordinates. They should show him the door and require all other employees to take an Oath of Fidelity. That will separate the wheat from the chaff,” concluded Fr. Euteneuer.


Archbishop Raymond L. Burke speaks out

In the St. Louis Review, Archbishop Burke talks about The Golden Compass in his December 14, 2007 weekly column under a section entitled, "Pastoral direction in a relativist society". In that section Archbishop writes (emphases mine in bold; my comments in red and in brackets):

Respect and obedience toward our pastors in the Church is a particular challenge in today’s society, which views everything in relation to what each individual thinks and wants. Pastors who have the solemn responsibility to teach and uphold the truths of the faith, that is, the objective reality of our relationship with God, with one another and with our world, become very unpopular and are openly rejected when they fulfill their responsibilities toward the flock in their care.

The secular media, which reflect very much the relativism rampant in our society, view the pastoral authority of the Church as extremism. When the Holy Father, the bishops and parish priests enunciate the Church’s teaching on the inviolable dignity of innocent human life, for example, they are labeled "the religious right." Easily enough, secular thinking enters the Church, remaking pastoral authority according to its own image while, at the same time, ridiculing and even resisting any firm teaching or discipline given by the Church’s pastors. [Not your way, Lord - my way. Or, another way, "non serviam"]

Recently, the pastors in our nation have cautioned the faithful, especially parents, regarding the film "The Golden Compass." Through George Henry, superintendent of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, parents and teachers were warned that the author of the books ("His Dark Materials," by Philip Pullman) from which the movie is drawn is an avowed atheist who has a particular hatred of the Catholic Church.

As archbishop, I caution all Catholics regarding the atheistic and antiCatholic nature of Pullman’s writings, upon which "The Golden Compass" is based. If you wish further and more in-depth information, I recommend the publication of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, "The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked," which can be obtained through the League’s website, http://www.catholicleague.org/. I also commend the book by Peter Vere and Sandra Miesel, "Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children’s Fantasy," published by Ignatius Press (http://www.ignatius.com/).

Before concluding, I wish also to correct an erroneous statement made in a commentary in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, titled "After ruckus over its roots, ‘Compass’ film mollifies some" (Dec. 8, 2007, p. A23). The commentary claims that the Catholic bishops of our nation viewed the film and praised it. The statement is false. A most defective review of the film was published by Catholic News Service. The review has by now been removed from the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The review was not based on a viewing of the film by bishops and was not endorsed by the bishops.

I call to mind something Pope Benedict XVI said to the Austrian bishops in a 2005 ad limina visit. I do go back to this several times yearly as it is so applicable today. For whatever reason, when we expect our bishops to be vocal, they are silent. Jesus didn't exemplify going with the flow. Rather, he demonstrated the need to be counter-cultural, which is precisely what Archbishop Burke and Fr. Euteneuer are doing. That Pope Benedict would say these words to the Austrian bishops (and it really fits many of our own bishops in the US), I don't think it is my perception, but in certain cases, an unfortunate reality.

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, you are well aware that there are topics concerning the truth of faith and especially moral doctrine that are not being adequately presented in catechesis and preaching in your Dioceses and that at times, for example, in youth ministry in the parishes or associations, are not being confronted at all or are not being clearly addressed as the Church wishes.

I give thanks to God it is not like this everywhere. However, perhaps those responsible for preaching fear that here and there people might drift away if they spoke too clearly.

Yet experience generally shows that it is precisely the opposite that happens. Be under no illusion. An incomplete Catholic teaching is a contradiction in itself and cannot be fruitful in the long term. The proclamation of the Kingdom of God goes hand in hand with the need for conversion and love that encourages, that knows the way, that teaches an understanding that with God's grace even what seems impossible becomes possible. Only think how the teaching of religion, catechesis at various levels and preaching can be gradually improved, deepened and as it were completed.
Other:

Lifesite News: Archbishop Burke Calls USCCB Film Office Review of 'Golden Compass' "Most Defective"

Both photos shown above were taken while Fr. Euteneuer and Archbishop Burke were visiting Assumption Grotto. Related photo posts:

Fr. Tom Euteneuer celebrating a Novus Ordo Mass - ad orientem

Fr. Tom Euteneuer at Grotto: Helpers of God's Precious Infants Retreat

Accumulative photo post of Archbishop Burke's visit



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1 comment:

frival said...

I love the Pope's statement: "[a]n incomplete Catholic teaching is a contradiction in itself". If you're not careful you can read it and completely miss the depth of its meaning. If you reverse its order but maintain the meaning it would read something like "proper Catholic teaching must necessarily be complete".

In other words, if you teach half the truth but avoid the "hard" half you contradict Catholic principles. Further, for it to be a Catholic teaching, it must equally be catholic - i.e. full, universal, complete. And that again reminds us that the name "Catholic" is not just an self-chosen appellation but a defining characteristic.

I love how he reminds us of the full depth of the meaning of the words we use when so often people find it so easy to just blankly repeat them. This is something I've frequently noticed he likes to do - one also notices this in the works of, e.g., von Balthasar. Just when you think you know what you're saying, they lay out a whole new level of depth inherent in those very same words. I've found that kerygmatic technique to be very useful in our RCIA classes - it may seem far too advanced on its face but the candidates seem to understand. At least I hope they do.