"THOMAS MORE CENTER(sic)" FIT FOR MISSION?
SISTER JOAN BUKREYO.S.F., FATHER MIKE CHAMPLIN O.P. AND FATHER NICK PUNCH O.P.
THE "SPIRIT"OF THE COUNCIL Back to the 1960s
When we moved from Brisbane to Sydney four months ago, as luck would have it, we found our new home at Pymble in the Broken Bay Diocese. We knew a bit about Pymble Parish from annual holiday visits and other occasional visits , staying nearby with relatives.Under the care of Polish Salvatorians, the Parish had remained fairly orthodox , and this had been aided years ago when a majority of the parishoners of the formerly Dominican Parish adjoining - Wahroonga - with its large Priory Church, and orthodox congregation left en masse for Pymble . This happened when a new Dominican PP wreckovated the Church and Congregation.
Several weeks back ,a flyer appeared in the Pymble Parish Bulletin announcing a Parish Mission in June 2012. Like all things of distant import , I set it aside, but not before a few phrases detected in a quick scan of the document set off some warning signals.
More recently, as some dust settled, I returned to examine the document and perform a few Web searches. It looks like what the American songsters used to call "a four alarm fire"!
Let me tell you the story of a group of two Catholic Clerics and a Nun who have chosen to work at re-vitalizing Catholic Parishes. They claim to do this through improving the quality of preaching and through prayer. The two priests, one American and one Australian, are Dominicans and the Nun is a Franciscan.
The group call themselves The Thomas More Center (sic) because Saint Thomas More was a layman. And, they say, lay folk had moved them to set up the Center. Apart from running Parish Missions and programs of spiritual renewal, they offer "an internship program in collaborative preaching for beginning preachers as well as seasoned ministers of the Word."
The group works in the U.S.A. And for a few months a year in Australia, where Father Punch originated and worked as a Dominican for many years we shall see.
So far a little unusual : normal Community life having been put aside, and the connection with the respective Orders undefined, and uncertain.
Father Michael Champlin O.P. a mustachioed 72 yrs old, was ordained a Dominican Priest on 3rd June, 1966 and after receiving graduate degrees in Philosophy and Social Psychology taught in the Dominican Seminary for three years. He then became a founding member of the Dominican Evangelical Team.
This would have been in 1969, by which time the cracks in the cloisters were increasingly evident in Religious Orders, and in Seminaries around the world, and were becoming evident under the influence the subversive activities of social psychologists among others.
Father is "a keen student of wine and enjoys cooking.” And he enjoys travel very much.
Father Nicholas Punch O.P. (no mustache) is also 72. He was ordained a Dominican Priest in December, 1966, and is also a product of the time. He has worked in Parishes, school and universities and was for seven years Provincial of the Dominicans in Australia and New Zealand (1981-88). In 1989 he was an intern at the Center for three months and joined full time in 1991.His hobbies are photography and classical music. He is especially interested in Scripture and moral theology and “hope(s) these find their way into the talks."
Sister Joan Bukrey O.S.F.was professed in 1964, and has spent most of her life in teaching. She has been in the Center since 1988.she finds it" refreshing being in the outdoors, walking and observing wildlife, especially birds", both in the U.S.A. and Australia.
Each of the Team operates a Blog where Father Champlin tells us we may gain an insight into "our" (?) teachings.
Father Mike is not a regular Blogger, but that might be just as well. His latest post on 27th February on "Religion and Politics" is a rather naive and simplistic plea to fix the world's material needs by the U.S.A.
continuing to wallow in debt.
On 10th April, 2010 Father Mike quoted at length and with obvious approval Sir John Templeton, here is a sample straight from Father's Blog:
"The question is not is there a God, but is there anything else except God? God is everyone and each of us a little bit." And again “I want to hear anybody who can tell me something in addition to ways I already know, about God or my spiritual principles."
There are several other posts, some unexceptionable, some yet again somewhat naive. Never a mention of systematic Catholic teaching,or Papal documents can be found.
Father Nicholas on the 8 th July, 2011 posts on his Blog an attack on the Corrected Translation of the Roman Missal which was written in a letter to THE TABLET. Father approved of the letter unreservedly.
In another post Father Punch reviews with unstinting approval a book (let) by an Irish Dominican emphasizing the humanity of Our Lord. It appears to be a re-run of the old '60s effort to effectively obscure the Divinity of Christ and present "just a guy like us " and not the authentic Christ of Sacred Scripture - yes, fully human (save for sin) but also fully Divine, the Master of every situation, knowing all, forgiving sins, raising the dead, curing the sick and so on.
On 7th February, 2011 Father Nicholas posted another attack on the Corrected Translation of the Roman Missal which he had taken from the dissident Jesuit Magazine AMERICA, with obvious approval. The attack was written by a former senior ICEL member involved in music.
On 19th November, 2010 Father Nicholas posted an attack on the Corrected translation of the Roman Missal which appeared on THE TABLET by a Jesuit from Boston College a hotbed of dissent.
On 16th November, 2010 Father Nicholas posted an attack on members of the American Tea Party as being “immoral in terms of Christian -especially Catholic morality" in their behavior and plans. Father's essential (Democratic Party) argument is BIG GOVERNMENT good - Small Government BAD.
The mangling of one's personal political opinions with one's obligation to preach the Gospel is not uncommon - who can forget the former One Hundred Thousand Dollars a year Public Servant Monsignor David Cappo of South Australian fame pronouncing on National Radio that it was "immoral to tax food" - to universal derision? Father Nicholas' views are of similar quality.
On the same day, Father Nicholas really lets his true colors show, in a further post in which he publishes with clear approval an item by the infamous Brian Coyne supporting Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, who appeared and spoke at a Conference in Sydney attacking the Church over alleged clerical abuse issues and, whose later book was condemned by the entire Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
On 23rd September, 2010 Father Nicholas gives a rousing cheer for liturgy committees and, in essence, "the spirit of the Council" "good old days". It must be tough seeing the sense of the sacred coming back and the "children of the revolution" fading from the scene (they never did produce spiritual children of their own - or vocations either!)
Sister Joan Bukrey OSF is also an occasional blogger. On 19th August, 2011 in an account of her "study pilgrimage tour" despite "two new prosthetic hips" she refers to “Francis and Clare" remaining relevant to-day “as we try to face Church and cultural challenges to the Gospel way of life" (Church?) Sister promises more on her Face book page.
On it June, 2011 Sister Joan posted details of a survey of young people the Team had carried out and quoted with apparent acceptance the results of the 77 responses: they would like to see changed the Church's teaching/discipline on married priesthood, ordination of women, inclusivity of gay and lesbian people, less emphasis on orthodoxy, more emphasis on justice issues and the over all (sic) lack of relevance of the church to to-day's culture especially their age group. CURIOUSLY THE BLOG SAYS "read more" but when clicked shows no more - I guess Sister had said what she wanted to say! Could it be that any young folk faithful to the Church's teachings had much earlier given up on the Team's teachings and didn't, bother responding? (Remember Father Mike's “our teachings" above!)
On 2nd March, 2010 Sister Joan tells us “Nick has just given a new talk on the topic of Judas." This is evidently a reference to Father Nicholas Punch O.P. (The “Nick" that is.) "The main point he makes is that Judas was forgiven by God and so are all of our relatives and friends who commit suicide." This is a remarkable revelation - apparently heretofore a private one. NO need for contrition at all apparently. One can only hope that "Nick" will let us in on some more of his private revelations.
On 14th October, 2009 Sister Joan posts attacking the Apostolic Visitation of Female Religious Orders and quoting the N.C.Reporter not the Register of course. And in the same post she attacks the Corrected Translation of the Roman Missal. Why are we not surprised?