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July 7, 2004

McGann's Mess

by Thomas A. Droleskey

Some will protest that it is pointless to beat a dead horse, no less point out the obvious about a dead bishop's nearly quarter-century reign of spiritual terror on the souls that had been entrusted to his pastoral care unto eternity. However, as events during the tragic episcopal reign of the late Bishop John Raymond McGann, who was the Ordinary of the Diocese of Rockville Centre (comprising Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island) from June 24, 1976, until January 4, 2000, continue to make news in the secular media, it is useful to remind Catholics that the cover-up of the crimes of sodomite priests in Rockville Centre was merely symptomatic of the spiritual crimes committed during McGann's years in office.

The subject of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, about which I have written voluminously in the past in The Wanderer and in my own Christ or Chaos and last year in The Remnant, is relevant once more as a result of a July 4, 2004,story in the South Bend Tribune about a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, John Salveson, who is following up a 2003 Notre Dame magazine story with a series of lectures about his having been abused by the late Father Robert Huneke, who was a curate at St. Dominic's Church in Oyster Bay when he was growing up. The story is very sordid and it is probably best not to repeat the details here. What is relevant for present purposes, however, is to point out that the young man tried unsuccessfully to get the Diocese of Rockville Centre to remove Huneke from active priestly ministry. As was reported by Margaret Fosmoe in the South Bend Tribune:

Salveson first went public with his story in 1989. Frustrated by the diocese's refusal to remove Huneke from the ministry, Salveson, his father and two brothers stood on the sidewalk outside the church where the priest was then serving as pastor and passed out letters to parishioners describing Huneke's history of abuse.

Their public protest drew some media attention, and the diocese then removed Huneke from parish work.

People in those days were still largely in denial about the extent of the problem of abuse by clergy, as were the media, Salveson said.

Last year's magazine article reverberated in Salveson's childhood parish of St. Dominic in Oyster Bay, N.Y.

In the article, Salveson recounted meeting with Monsignor John Alesandro, then chancellor of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, several weeks after he distributed the letters to parishioners about Huneke's history of abuse.

The monsignor berated him for his actions, Salveson wrote.

Ironically, Alesandro a few years ago was shifted to a role as parish priest at St. Dominic.

When a St. Dominic parish member read in Salveson's magazine article about Alesandro's role in the Huneke matter, the article made the rounds of parish members. A group of parishioners is demanding that Alesandro be removed from the parish, but the bishop thus far has refused, Salveson said.

This scenario is so typical of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Monsignor Alesandro, who is a nephew of Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, the retired Archbishop of Philadelphia, was part and parcel of an effort described in a Suffolk County grand jury report last year to hardball individuals claiming that they had been abused by priests of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Father Huneke was not removed until Mr. Salveson went to the streets to pass out literature about his story in front of Saint Dominic's Church on Anstice Street in beautiful, scenic, delightful Oyster Bay. In like manner, Monsignor Alesandro's immediate predecessor as pastor Saint Dominic's, Monsignor Charles H. "Bud" Ribaudo, was not removed as pastor of Saint Dominic's by the current bishop, the Most Reverend William F. Murphy, until allegations that Ribaudo had abused Father Michael Hinds as a young man became public knowledge as a result of investigative reporting by Newsday. Monsignor Frank Caldwell, then the diocesan director of priest personnel, admitted to a Suffolk County grand jury that had been empanelled to investigate the Diocese of Rockville Centre that the only reason Ribaudo was removed was because of bad press. The fear of bad press was more of a motivating factor than the eternal good of souls and the physical safety of the young.

This should come as no surprise when one considers that Bishop Murphy helped to enable the sodomite priest priests in the Archdiocese of Boston when he served as Bernard Cardinal Law's vicar general. Both Murphy and the former Bishop of Brooklyn, the Most Reverend Thomas Daily, gave assistance to Father Paul Shanley, a co-founder of the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). And it should come as no surprise when one considers the Diocese of Rockville Centre's refusal to take seriously the litany of doctrinal and liturgical problems that were presented to its officials under the episcopate of John Raymond McGann. After all, if a bishop and his appointees are not concerned with contradictions of articles contained in the Deposit of Faith and with outrages committed during the worship of God, why should they be at all concerned with the practice of sodomy by priests?

Without seeking to minimize for one second the seriousness of the efforts to cover-up the activities of sodomite priest perverts in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, a review of the spiritual abuses of souls will indicate that the former was made possible by the latter, although the abuse of souls is sometimes a function of the fact that those trapped in unrepentant perversity need to remake doctrine and worship to suit their own lives of disordered sin that they do not seek to correct in the Sacrament of Penance. Here is but a brief review of some of the things that were brought to the attention of the Diocese of Rockville Centre during the episcopate of the late John Raymond McGann, most of which I know from first-hand experience and as one of the people who registered complaints and chronicled same to the Holy See:

1) Applicants to study for the priesthood in the Diocese of Rockville Centre were screened for many years by the late Dr. Leonard Krinsky, a secular Jewish man who analyzed candidates in light of the parameters given him by the diocese. For example, one applicant was told in 1979, that while "he was free of any psychopathology, was intelligent and had the capacity for rich interpersonal relationships," he "lacked the flexibility necessary for a postconciliar vocation." Krinsky's report of this candidate also noted that his desire to be a priest to celebrate the sacraments was "preconciliar and self-centered" and that his desire for penance and mortification could be "a possible source of masochism." This particular candidate's experience was from from atypical during the McGann era.

2) Priests faithful to the Deposit of Faith and who maintained traditional Catholic devotions were either harassed and/or denied pastorates during the McGann era. Father Robert Mason, who has been pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa Park since 1976, was the subject of purge by Bishop McGann in 1983. It was only the extraordinary intervention of the late Silvio Cardinal Oddi, then the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, that saved Father Mason's pastorate. Younger priests, especially those devoted to the Traditional Latin Mass, who managed to get into the seminary despite Krinsky and get themselves ordained to the priesthood were denied pastorates until McGann's tenure ended on January 4, 2000. (A look at the treatment of Father John Murphy, no relation to Bishop William Murphy, by the Diocese of Rockville Centre, will be the subject of a forthcoming article, probably in The Remnant, when time permits me to complete the needed research.)

3) Priests who put into question articles contained in the Deposit of Faith, whether overtly or subtly, were rewarded in most instances with plumb pastorates and/or choice diocesan positions of prestige. The late Monsignor Frederick Schaefer, who was for many years the pastor of Saint Brigid's Church in Westbury, Long Island, was a firm proponent of the condemned theology of the "Fundamental Option," a heresy that contends that one cannot be guilty of grave sin unless one has the conscious desire to choose against God, disregarding the fact that all sins, including venial sin, involve of their very nature a turning away from God. This heresy was promoted by other diocesan priests, including some who taught in the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, which is run jointly by the Diocese of Brooklyn (the mother diocese of Rockville Centre, which was created in 1957) and Rockville Centre. Perhaps the penultimate endorsement of heterodoxy by Bishop McGann was his recommendation in 1988 for the elevation of then Monsignor Emil Wcela, who had been the rector of Immaculate Conception Seminary for a period of time in the 1970s before he became pastor of Saint Joseph's Church in Garden City, New York, to be a auxiliary bishop of the diocese despite his being in support of women's ordination, a position which Bishop Wcela has never recanted. What is even more scandalous is that the Holy See knew about Wcela's position before Pope John Paul II gave permission for his episcopal consecration.

A Monsignor Frank Gaeta, now the pastor Sts. Cyril and Methodious Church in Deer Park, New York, was himself pastor of Saint Brigid's for many years, presiding over bizarre things such as readings from Martin Luther King during an Easter Vigil Mass, a Mass to honor homosexuals and their family members (which included a speech given after the distribution of Holy Communion by a militant activist who endorsed active homosexual and lesbian behavior), and who wrote a tract on Lent in the 1990s in which he claimed that Judas Isacariot is in Heaven. None of this meant anything to Bishop McGann. It means nothing to Bishop Murphy. A listing of other nefarious figures in the Diocese of Rockville Centre would be to repeat things I have placed in print many times before. However, I should point out that one priest, whose name I do not recall at the moment, told me during a heated argument on the Commemoration of All Souls in 1997, that Purgatory was not a defined doctrine of the Church. This prompted a old Knight of Columbus to fold his fist and hold it directly in my face, shouting, "Shut your (expletive deleted) face. Father's right. There ain't no Purgatory no more." And there was a Monsignor Thomas Gallagher, then the pastor of Sacred Heart Church in North Merrick, New York, who said during a Lenten weekday Mass in 1994, "All you need to do is believe in a few articles in the Creed. The rest is up for grabs." Enough. I could go on indefinitely in this vein.

4) Liturgical abuses are legendary in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. I witnessed scores upon scores of them before ceasing in late 2002 to assist at the Novus Ordo, which I came to understand was the source and the summit of all liturgical abuses (the Mother of Liturgical Ab sues, if you will). One of the most pervasive and pernicious practices has been the proliferation of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. I wrote in an article that appeared in The Wanderer in 1993 about the fact that some parishes on Long Island had hundreds of lay people serving as extraordinary ministers. That prompted some editor from a magazine called Eucharistic Minister to write to me to say that he was not aware of any parish in the nation that had more than one hundred "Eucharistic" ministers, as he termed them.

Well, I picked up the phone and called the rectory at Saint Brigid's in Westbury. "Peace be with you," said that receptionist/secretary. I asked her to estimate the number of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist they had serving the parish. The answer was "over 300." I telephoned the offices of Eucharistic Minister in Kansas City, Missouri, with that information, being promptly hung up on after I delivered the news that my original story in The Wanderer had been correct all along. As Monsignor George A. Kelly noted to me in his office at Saint John's University during the height of the Father Mason controversy in 1983, one of the chief rationales for insisting on the distribution of Holy Communion under both species, which was a big issue in the then named National Conference of Catholic Bishops, was to proliferate extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist and thus blur the distinction between the sacerdotal priesthood of the ordained priest and the common priesthood the lay faithful. The Diocese of Rockville Centre was a special pioneer in this regard. The stories of the wreckovation of the diocese's churches are also too many to list here.

5) The rot of sex-instruction was institutionalized under the late Bishop McGann, thus subjecting young Catholics to the robbing of their innocence and purity, if not being reaffirmed in the false methods of so-called "values clarification," as part of preparation for the reception of the sacraments, especially for the Sacrament of Confirmation. As was the case in almost every other archdiocese and diocese in this nation, a K-12 program in "AIDS Awareness" was used as the cover to promote in subtle but effective ways the homosexualist agenda. No, Pope Pius XI's Divini Illius Magistri absolute ban on all forms of sex-instruction is a thing of the past. Indeed, Bishop McGann gave permission for a chapter of Dignity, of all things, to operate in his diocese until the Vatican ordered him  in 1985 to stop sponsoring the chapter. And this is not even to discuss the horror of all elements of Catholic education in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, a fact driven home to me every year I taught at the college or university level in the New York City-Long Island metropolitan area between 1980 and 2003. Most of the hundreds and hundreds of Catholic students I taught knew next to nothing about the Faith--and the little that they thought they knew was contrary to the truth of the Faith in most instances.

6) A lack of charity to traditionally minded priests was one of the hallmarks of Bishop McGann's tenure. Our dear friend, the late Father Salvatore V. Franco, was ordained for the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1953, three years after McGann. At one reunion of seminarians of Immaculate Conception Seminary, Bishop McGann told Father Franco, "Sal, you have to update your theology." That about says it all, doesn't it? Yes, the unchanging teaching of the God-Man needs to be "updated" in light of modern man's sophistication and the new "insights" gained from the "science" of contemporary theology. Father Franco, though, remained a steadfast champion of Tradition, and he was denied in late 2002 by the Diocese of Brooklyn, then under the control of Bishop Thomas Daily, his dying request, to have a Solemn Requiem Mass. (The Diocese of Rockville Centre had denied a traditional requiem Mass for the late Judge Patricia Collins just days before Father Franco died.) The Society of Saint Pius X honored this brave priest's dying request, thus stigmatizing a brave soldier in the army of Christ in death in the minds of most of those who served in the chancery offices in Brooklyn and Rockville Centre. Only two diocesan priests had the love and the respect for a wonderful brother priest to show up at his wake. Only one attended his requiem Mass, offered so well by Father Francis Chazal of the Society of Saint Pius X at Saint Michael the Archangel Church in Farmingville, New York.

7) The lack of charity to traditionally minded priests can be contrasted with the openness to every false religion imaginable, thus localizing in Rockville Centre the regime of novelty known as ecumenism, institutionalizing services and preaching condemned by all popes prior to 1958, none more damning of this novelty than Pope Pius XI's Mortalium Animos. Bishop McGann's full embrace of ecumenism has been continued by Bishop William Murphy, who presided over the placing of a Menorah in the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York. Ecumenism stops at the door of Tradition, however. Bishop Murphy did and said nothing when Saint Michael the Archangel Church was vandalized, including the desecration of the altar of sacrifice and the tabernacle that contained consecrated Hosts, in 2003. Oh, no, an affront to he Real Presence of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament must be ignored as it took place in a "schismatic" church. This happened while the Diocese of Rockville Centre bends over backward to demonstrate solicitude to dead religions, truly schismatic sects, Hindus, Buddhists and all other assorted heretics. In other words, the Tiber flows into Long Island Sound.

This is only a partial list. As noted before, other pieces of mine have gone into Bishop McGann's mess in much more detail. The point of this particular recitation, though, is to drive home once again the point that the physical abuse of Catholics by sodomite priests is the natural and logical rotten issue of the spiritual abuse of souls that took place in the Diocese of Rockville Centre during the reign of Bishop John Raymond McGann and continues uncorrected in the nearly three year reign of Bishop William F. Murphy. The fact that the latter has permitted a weekly offering of the Traditional Mass (as opposed to the bi-monthly offerings, separated by a distance of seventy miles, of the Traditional Mass under Bishop McGann) does not redeem the mess that was fostered during the reign of Bishop McGann and is being continued by McGann's allies in one parish after another. When is Bishop Murphy going to apologize for the crimes committed against the Deposit of Faith and the worship of God committed during the reign of Bishop John Raymond McGann?

I prayed for Bishop McGann every day when he was alive. I pray for the repose of his immortal soul every day. To point out the horror of his episcopal reign is not to rejoice in the horrors or to abdicate my responsibility as a longtime (but not current) resident of the Diocese of Rockville Centre and as son of the Church to pray for the dead, especially for those who exercised ecclesiastical authority as bishops. It is, though, to point out that those who reign at present cannot ignore Bishop McGann's mess and pretend that the spiritual abuse of souls did not occur in the past and does not exist at present.

It is important to note, as always, that the Church is Divinely founded and maintained. She will last until the end of time. Each of our own sins wounded Our Lord once in time and wounds His Mystical Body, the Church, today. None of us is free from the guilt of worsening the problems that exist in Holy Mother Church by means of our sins and our lukewarmness. Nevertheless, it is essential for the sheep of the flock to be governed only according to the mind of the God-Man as He has deposited It in His Mystical Bride, the Catholic Church. Those who take upon themselves the yoke of a shepherd must govern according to the Mind and the Sacred Heart of the Good Shepherd, not according to the dictates of lawyers and ambitious chancery personnel. And we must pray for the day when some pope will do his work and appoint only men of Tradition and Truth to the episcopate, never fearing to discipline and to remove those who sway from the the true Faith and/or who countenance error and scandal.

Our Lady, Mother of Perpetual Help, please pray for bishops to govern as Catholics and to put an end to spiritual abuse of souls as a precondition to ensuring the physical welfare of Catholics.

Saint John Fisher, pray for bishops to seek personal holiness above good press and career prestige.

Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, pray for priests to seek holiness by being totally consecrated to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart and by discovering a love of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition as the antidote to Modernism and its multifaceted errors.



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