Tuesday, November 12, 2013

More on the Earth Moving in the Diocese of Baker

Back in October, I wrote (here) about a situation that had developed here in the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, in which the pastor of the largest (I think) parish in the Diocese had been removed from his post, causing consternation amongst the (liberal) parishioners there. At the time, I said about the “shake-up”:

Oh, it’s nothing worth national news, and it won’t make much difference to you readers who don’t live in one of the parishes mentioned.  

Well, I was wrong about that! Since then, the priest in question – Fr. James Radloff, who was dismissed from his position as pastor at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Bend – has made national headlines – in the liberal-progressive-modernist National Catholic Reporter (aka, the Fishwrap, as Fr. Z has dubbed it). You can read about it here and here.

If you have the courage (and the stomach) to read the comments at the Fishwrap articles, you’ll see that the supporters of Fr. Radloff are by-and-large a group of people who have no real understanding or appreciation of Catholic tradition, and who consider the Church to be a democracy whereby the people should be allowed to elect their own bishops and choose their own pastors, among other such nonsense. Nowhere is the division in the Church more visible!

Now also consider this: the canon lawyer for Fr. Radloff is one Fr. W. Thomas Faucher, who is a priest of the Diocese of Boise. There is an interesting history between Fr. Faucher and the Diocese of Baker.  A bit of that history is recounted on the website of the parish of St. Edward the Martyr in Sisters, Oregon:

Fr. Faucher
In 1996 Father W. Thomas Faucher from the Diocese of Boise arrived ‘on loan’ and, together with the thriving economy, ushered in a period of growth and parish membership mushroomed to 185 families over the next 3 years. This precipitated the need for an addition to the church, which was completed and dedicated in 2001… After Father Faucher’s return to Boise, the parish saw a series of pastors and administrators, including Father Jim Logan, Father Richard Ley, and Father Kieran Okoro, all who left their own unique imprint on the parish. In addition, Father James Radloff, as priest in residence, added to the community with his own inimitable personality.  

It seems to me that we often hear it said of liberal priests that attendance at Mass at the local parish sees a huge increase under their leadership. However, as I noted in my previous post on this particular issue:

…[I]t appears that with the installation of the newest pastor (and you can see some of the history surrounding that turn of events here, here, and here) resulted in a resurgence of the “old” ways of the dissenting group, and some have been coming back “to the Church”. But really, when this happens, can we really say they are coming back to the Church? I think in large part they are coming back to a pastor they perceive as having a similar view to theirs of what the Church should be. That’s not always a good thing.

And indeed, the parish in Sisters does have a reputation for having a large contingent of liberal-progressive-minded individuals who push their agenda. In fact, one of the priests mentioned in the list of previous pastors of the parish was basically run out of town because of his orthodox perspective. I don’t know what that parish was like before Fr. Faucher arrived there in 1996, but I do know that Fr. Faucher holds some pretty liberal-progressive views himself.

For instance, Fr. Faucher appears to be a long-term defender of homosexual “marriage”. In a 2006 letter to the Idaho Statesman newspaper, he publicly dissented from Church teaching, saying in part:

The Idaho Legislature has approved a constitutional amendment to define marriage in a manner which will ensure that same-gender "marriage" could never happen in Idaho. The amendment is subject to voter approval in November.

This is at its core an anti-gay movement.

He adds, among other ludicrous things, that “The morality of what gay people do is not any more of an issue than is the morality of those who go to Jackpot and gamble or those who go to bars and drink.” He acknowledges that “My own church views homosexual activity as immoral”, but clearly disagrees with this teaching. In public! I wonder if his bishop – who did not dissent from Church teaching at that time, or since, as far as I know – had a word with him.

Well, that was seven years ago. Fast-forward to July 2013. In another letter to the Idaho Statesman, Fr. Faucher wrote:

I, for one, am pleased with the Supreme Court's decision in the DOMA case, allowing same-sex civil marriages to have federal recognition. I know there are some in my Roman Catholic Church who are not pleased…
Some?!?! Let’s hope there are more than “some”. But that’s not all. Fr. Faucher, with an apparent ignorance of – or at least disregard for – the Natural Law, on which Church teaching is based, says:

Civil authorities determine and change the criteria for civil marriage. Over the centuries and in various countries they have allowed or forbade polygamy, determined ages, race, consanguinity, divorce, etc. Saying "traditional marriage" has always meant one man and one woman is historically absurd. The issue of gender is just one more item to include in the civil criteria.

Well, there you have it. No matter what else this man thinks about other Church issues, he is so far off the rails on this point that I can scarcely believe he could be allowed to give canonical advice to anyone on any level! Perhaps Fr. Radloff has good reasons for choosing this priest to represent him in a court of canon law, but personally, I would not want to be associated with such a man – at least not in terms of having him represent me before a Congregation of the Church!

After all, people do tend to believe that “birds of a feather flock together”, and that birds found together often constitute a flock. Or something. But Fr. Radloff choosing this priest as his canon lawyer seems rather self-defeating if Fr. Radloff wants to be perceived as a faithful priest of the Catholic Church.

Well, you can draw your own conclusions, or just ignore the whole issue. Actually I suggest the latter, but since this is all happening in my diocese and I know something about the players, I find it somewhat interesting to see it play itself out.

The questions I’m left with, though, involve the motivations of the concerned parties. In particular, why is Fr. Radloff so intent on fighting this dismissal? Sure, I understand that he has canonical rights, but what of what benefits can possibly come to the parish or the diocese by this very public fight? There is a new pastor in Bend now; is his job made any easier by Fr. Radloff’s pending case?  Why is Fr. Radloff so intent on remaining there? Is it the prestige of the parish? Is it because he feels “popular” there? Does he think he cannot be an effective pastor elsewhere?

Seriously, I cannot think of a single positive motivation in this; I can only think of selfish motivations. If you can think of a good reason for Fr. Radloff to fight the dismissal, clue me in. But remember, all of you lib-progs out there (Pat Smith, I’m talkin’ to you!), that “the people really like him” is not a good reason, for the simple reasons that not all of the people really like him. Besides, the Catholic Church is not a democracy, and pastors are not chosen by popularity contest.

Actually, the whole mess makes me sad.


  1. I'm not fit to judge if someone is selfish, since that's interior and I thankfully can't read the state of a person's soul. (That would be a bit of a burden, I imagine.)

    One reason that he would fight would simply to be able to share the reasons. The comment that he did nothing illegal lead the rumor mill to imagine lots of immoral (but not illegal) things Fr Radloff could have done.

    If it were implied that I did someone immoral, then I know I would defend my integrity! That's someone I hold dear, and I wouldn't want the people who look up to me to think that my work/faith was a facade.

    Note: I'm conservative.

    Honestly, I feel if he was just fighting being moved, I would tend to think this was too much. However, defending integrity, etc. That makes sense to me.

    -Sarah M.

  2. This could make for a good chapter to add to the book you are thinking about. I guess the Bishop had some good reasons to make the change by the reaction.


  3. Thanks for the mention but I have nothing I'd want to say except God Bless

  4. LOL! Et cum spiritu tuo, Pat Smith!

  5. Why do we want him back ? Because when you walked into the Mass, you were uplifted by the drama he inspired in saying the Mass; you really felt God's presence; also his sermons were both witty and wise and he worked hard to increase attendance and accomplished many other worthwhile programs; in past years we have had priests who may have been good but foreign and we couldnt even understand them; others who were stodgy and boring. Whats the matter with you, doesnt one want to enjoy being in Church and feel joyful about it?

  6. The Mass isn't supposed to be a drama. It sounds like you are describing a "cult of personality". I care more about what the priest says than how he says it. Let him preach the truth. Some people don't think Fr. Radloff was always preaching the truth.


Please be courteous and concise.