Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Abp. Dolan on greatest threat to Church

"Maybe the greatest threat to the Church is not heresy, not dissent, not secularism, not even moral relativism, but this sanitized, feel-good, boutique, therapeutic spirituality, that makes no demands, calls for no sacrifice, asks for no conversion, entails no battle against sin, but only soothes and affirms." ~Archbishop Timothy Dolan

[Hat tip to Fr. John Higgins via Roger Lessa]


Anonymous said...

I can't see how this boutique spirituality doesn't some way or another involve heresy.


Anonymous said...

Wow. He actually said this? Hooray! At some blog I read the comment that the gospel promises God's salvation and help in the struggle against sin, not happiness or success or .... much of anything else in this life, at least not as a sure thing. 'Transformation' is great, but in itself, as we too often understand it, it is not salvation, and it should not be what defines our message. Jesus saves. Will he make me whole? In the end, yes: right now, though, that phrase can be used recklessly. Oprah is about transformation. Jesus is about salvation.

Anon said...

Isn't that which is "sanitized, feel-good, boutique, therapeutic spirituality, that makes no demands, calls for no sacrifice, asks for no conversion, entails no battle against sin, but only soothes and affirms" ... that which come from heresy, dissent, secularism and moral relativism?

What am I missing here?

Steve said...

Sorry, Archbishop Dolan, but I think you're 100% wrong.

Where do you think that the "sanitized, feel good, boutique, therapeutic spirituality" CAME from?

It is the RESULT of heresy, dissent, secularism, and moral relativism.

So, no, you are wrong Archbishop Dolan - the erroneous result/consequence can not possibly be a greater threat than its fallacious sources.

No wonder the Church is in crisis, when our most prominent leaders have such muddled thinking....

My advice to you, Absp. Dolan, and your brother Bishops is two-fold:

1) Be true spiritual shepherds & leaders - do battle and fend off the sources of the evils that are devastating our Church, and their consequences will flee too. And,

2) Don't just keep exercising the utterly failed strategy of "keeping everyone in play", which just gives the sources of evil free reign to continue to wreck their havoc upon the Church and her faithful.

Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

Steve B
Plano, TX

Anonymous said...

Abp. Dolan is a hero of mine and I'm a little bit tickled that he is from good Irish stock.

Donna (great grand-daughter of Irish folk from Cork)

Roger said...

Steve said:
“It is the RESULT of heresy, dissent, secularism, and moral relativism.”
Sorry Steve your statement is indeed wrong. The feel good is from the appetitive faculty, which must be reasoned to heresy, dissent, and relativism. The statement you make should be, it’s result is heresy, dissent… To be heretical must be a reasoned exercise of the mind.

Anonymous said...

Good grief. Of course it is "heresy," but not of the overt sort but instead rather of subtle cultural accommodation. That is his point. Take what you can get. Dolan is a good guy.

Pertinacious Papist said...

Some of you have been arguing that Abp. Dolan's distinction separates the inseparable, or confuses the cause with the effect. This may be true; and it's not a negligible point. Yet the symptom may itself be the cause of far greater damage than the originating blatant heresy and dissent, since the latter is more easily identified and thwarted, whereas the warm hot tub of "therapeutic religion" saps the life out of even those well-intentioned faithful in parishes by its subtler denaturing evisceration of the Gospel. An analogy: pride may be the chief of the deadly sins, but common and simple lust may be responsible for sending far more individuals to hell. Just a thought.

Pertinacious Papist said...

That was a poor analogy; but I can't think of a better one at the moment.

Anon said...

Glad I am not alone.


I hear you... and I know what he is saying... but Abp. Dolan is saying that the fruits are the problem. They are a problem, but they are not the source.

As your average every day lay person... I want more. Where we are at now... I don't know that I am asking for much.

-Anon (not to be confused with Anonymous)

Sheldon said...

One may be a means to the other; the other, in turn, may be a means to the one.

Heresy (such as rejecting belief in the Real Presence or existence of hell) can be a means to something else (such as boredom or a desire for entertainment during mass, or a self-satisfied indifference about one's moral life).

Feel good religion (such as a liturgy that focuses primarily on entertainment, telling people they're "good enough" as they are, that they "deserve a break," and "shouldn't sweat the little stuff"), in turn, can spawn heresy (such as rejecting the idea that people are by nature sinners and in need of repentance and rebirth).

I see no problem looking at this either way. The Dolan quote doesn't deny that any of the things mentioned is a problem. It emphasizes the fact that there's a CRISIS afoot in the Church, and such an observation from a prominent bishop today, at least from where I sit, is a very welcome thing -- as welcome as Cardinal Burke's homily at the Vatican not so very long ago. I'm inclined to say: "Thank you. You noticed!"

How refreshing this is for those of us who feel like we've been consigned to the gutters and cisterns of a western church dominated by insipid banality, soul-sapping triviality, and bloodless religious tripe. I'm sorry to say this, but I look forward to my weekly trip to Sunday mass at my Novus Ordo parish these days about as much as I would to an event planned by a hospice recreation director, or an event featuring Barney and Friends for tiny tots. I just keep telling myself, "If Jesus is really present here suffering through this indignity, then I should be humble enough to do the same." But obedience comes at a cost: a constant battle against resentment, anger, disgust.

Thank you for noticing, Archbishop Dolan.

Steve said...


If attending Holy Mass at your local parish is a near occasion of sin, you might want to consider assisting somewhere else.

I would highly recommend the VERY reverent traditional Liturgies offered by Priests from the FSSP, Institute of Christ the King, and the Good Shepherd Institute (all in complete unity with Rome).

Holy Mass should be about a LOT more than just receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist - and your sensus fidei is rightly telling you just that. Check out this fine post on the matter:

Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

Steve B
Plano, TX

Tawser said...

However, what is is condemning is precisely what fifty years we were told on pain of being ostracized from the church were the positive outcomes of that "pastoral" council. Forgive me for feeling a headache coming on.

Anonymous said...

If I may venture a guess, the good archbishop is proposing a thesis with which both John Vennari and Dr. Mosebach could wholeheartedly agree. Sentimentality, religious experience being the final measure of the utility of religion allows us to believe all sorts of odd things: abortion is a regretable necessity, we can't turn back the clock to all those pre-Vatican II ideas like only boys can serve at the altar, homilies should have content, and other clearly outdated ideas.


Ralph Roister-Doister said...

The whole idea of "therapeutic religion" comes from the culture, specifically from protestantism, and even more from Kant. It is everywhere today. For most protestants, it is literally all that remains of their private authority shibboleth. But many Catholic leaders, practicing a kind of slow protestantism, regard it as a life raft amid the wreckage that their modernist enthusiasms have created within the Church. But their "life raft" is only more of the egotism that got them into their present mess in the first place.

Dolan doesn't come across as much of a hero. I saw him on EWTN not too long ago, and he played the role of jovial Irish rascal with such doggedly schmaltzy enthusiasm that he managed to avoid every serious question he was asked by a long suffering Fr Benedict Groschel. He came across, not as a hero, but as a bit of a fool. And certainly not as a leader.

In sum, he came across as a poster boy for therapeutic religion.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

It just occurred to me: when Ab Dolan speaks of the threat of "sanitized, feel-good, boutique, therapeutic spirituality, that makes no demands, calls for no sacrifice, asks for no conversion, entails no battle against sin, but only soothes and affirms," he is doing nothing less than affirming the threat of Unitarianism -- which certainly qualifies as heresy, does it not? So congratulations, Steve, you have it exactly right. And congratulations, Ab Dolan, for sounding the alarm: if Joseph Priestley were still alive, he'd be rolling in his grave!

Shirley said...

Unitarianism ... Joseph Priestly. Right. Definitely hammer to nail.