Los Angeles Religious Education Congress: Spreading Confusion Where Clarity is Needed

Los Angeles Religious Education Congress: Spreading Confusion Where Clarity is Needed

Los Angeles Religious Education Congress: Spreading Confusion Where Clarity is Needed
Photo Credit: Tuxyso / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Every year since the early seventies, Catholics have gathered at the Anaheim Convention Center for the Los Angeles Archdiocesan Religious Education Congress (REC).  Throughout the years, the congress has grown into what organizers dub “the nation’s largest annual gathering of Roman Catholics,” with an annual attendance of around 35,000.1

Whether or not it is the largest such gathering in the country, undeniably, the event is sizeable and should serve to clarify Church teaching, customs and practices in our age of misinformation, insecurity and doubt.

One would expect such clarification at an education congress, especially since the event is organized by the Los Angeles Archdiocese which was forced in 2013 to settle a sex-abuse lawsuit for $660 million.  To date, this is the largest such payout in Church history.2

In spite of this need for clarification and reinforcement of traditional doctrine, the REC has long been known for promoting the opposite.  Heterodox presenters and liturgical innovation, replete with sensual liturgical dancers, have come to be mainstays of the event.

Ask Archbishop Jose Gomez to Keep the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress Catholic

Indeed, Christian Patin was not exaggerating when he concluded his first-hand report of last year’s REC saying:

The Religious Education Congress is nothing short of a disaster. With insolent, gay-affirmative priests crying for change, and liberal Ph.D.’s with a soapbox and a bone to pick, it’s no wonder why so many poor and miserable souls are confused about the Church and what she actually teaches. In RE-Congress-land, sin is nothing more than an unavoidable condition of man. To them, sex is an end in itself, gender is fluid and enigmatic, racism and intolerance are the only real mortal sins, love means “mind your own business,” God is only merciful, the Catechism is evil, Trent was an innovation, and the Church has no idea what she’s doing.3

Sadly, this year’s congress promises to repeat the trend.  Problematic speakers will include:

– Fr. James Martin, who has dissented consistently from Church teaching on the family.  This dissent includes: saying the Catholics must “reverence” homosexual unions, supporting transgenderism for children, favoring homosexual kissing during Holy Mass, calling dissident nun (Sr. Jeannine Gramick) a “saint,” welcoming an award from the condemned group New Ways Ministry, tweeting a blasphemous depiction of Our Lady of Guadalupe, writing the book Building a Bridge (which undermines Catholic teaching on homosexual sin) and praising the blasphemous “rainbow rosary.”4

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– Fr. Chris Ponnet, currently the Director of the Office of Catholic HIV/AIDS Ministry for the Los Angeles Archdiocese and the archbishop’s Spiritual Director for Catholic Ministry with Lesbian and Gay Persons, will deliver a talk on human sexuality and oversee a workshop together with Dr. Arthur Fitzmaurice (more on him later) titled: “Building Bridges with Catholics who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning.”

Fr. Ponnet has spoken openly in favor of the homosexual lifestyle.  At last year’s REC, Fr. Ponnet spoke of our responsibility to “affirm” homosexuals in their journey as they: “begin to identify with either what is normative, or from their perspective what is normative… they identify themselves in a world that is unto themselves.”

In the same talk, he affirmed that some children as early as second or third grade already know that they are homosexual.5

– Fr. Thomas Reese will be speaking on the sex abuse crisis and reformation of church governance.  He writes currently for Religion News Service, having been a columnist with the leftist National Catholic Reporter.  While serving as editor for America magazine, Fr. Reese came under scrutiny from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, then led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, for his controversial articles on priestly celibacy, homosexual priests and the ordination of women.  This led to his resignation.

Ask Archbishop Jose Gomez to Keep the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress Catholic

In 2005, Fr. Reese was interviewed by the New York Times.  Then he opined that: “with the shortage of priests, the church can hardly dismiss gay seminarians.”  In a 2010 interview, he said: “I personally think the Church’s battle against the legalization of gay marriage is misplaced.  The idea that gay marriage is somehow a threat to family life or heterosexual marriage doesn’t make sense.6

– Fr. Bryan Massingale will address attendees on “Race and the Limits of Dialogue” and “Jesus and the Virtuous Life.”  Fr. Massingale is a professor of theology at Fordham University and has supported homosexual activism for several years at the REC.  He is also a supporter of the racially charged Black Lives Matter movement.7

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At last year’s REC, he participated in a workshop together with transsexual Shen Heckel, titled: “Transgender in Our Schools: One Bread, One Body.” During this event, he claimed that Church doctrine is not clearly defined concerning transgenderism.  He also made it clear that the only danger of children suffering from gender dysphoria comes when they or their family fail to accept “their reality.”  In response to the question, “Is it dangerous to allow very young children to transition?” he stated:

“I think when a family member or a friend begins or is undergoing their transition that we also undergo a journey of transition. That just as when a family member comes out as gay or lesbian, the whole family has to make a coming-out journey[.]I think it’s only dangerous to the child to not recognize and respect their reality.”8

Last year, Fr. Massingale also claimed that sin was a development of the Council of Trent, a mere breach of contract with God that had nothing to do with morality until the sixteenth century.9

– Dr. Arthur Fitzmaurice is equally bad.  He is an open homosexual who has long campaigned for the LGBT cause, even advocating for the removal of the words “intrinsically disordered” in the Catechism when it describes homosexual orientation.  “…to keep this abusive language in the Catechism and other Church writings,” he claims is, “in itself, gravely evil.”10

Ask Archbishop Jose Gomez to Keep the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress Catholic

– Cardinal Roger Mahony is also scheduled to speak at this year’s REC at a lecture titled: “Connecting Junior High and High School Students with the Volatile Immigration Issues.”  Many find his very presence disconcerting.  In 2007, Cardinal Mahony faced a lawsuit accusing him of covering up for a molesting priest.  This resulted in the $660 million payout mentioned above.

The scandal led Archbishop Jose Gomez to relieve him of all activity in the archdiocese, saying: “I have informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties.”11

– Other problematic presenters include: Bishop Robert Barron who believes in an empty Hell;12 animator for the ecumenical Cretin-Derham Hall Taizé Prayer Community David Haas who posted an icon depicting homosexual predator Harvey Milk as a saint on his Facebook page;13 Dr. Greer Gordon who was the 2016 keynote speaker at the dissident Call To Action group’s national Conference;14 and Dr. Phyllis Zagano who falsely claims that: “Women perform and have performed diaconal ministry throughout the history of the Church.”15

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With such a lineup of speakers, this year’s REC will add to the confusion and misinformation that so plagues the Church today.  As such, it is not only a failed opportunity to shine light in the darkness of error, but an active agent in the destruction of the Church’s perennial teachings.

This takes on even more importance because of the official nature of the event.  As writer Joseph Sciambra aptly points out, the “mere presence” of these speakers at an official congress of the Archdiocese “imparts on them a certain imprimatur.”16

The confusion has persisted long enough.  It must stop now.  While many thought that the problematic elements in the REC were due to Cardinal Mahony alone, this has proven untrue.  The abuses have continued during the reign of his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez.  There is no more room for wishfully thinking that these abuses will resolve themselves.  It is time to take a stand.

That is why the American TFP urges you to protest the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress.  You can do this by respectfully contacting Archbishop Jose Gomez and express to him your concerns about the danger to souls that this congress represents.  Please do so through e-mail and telephone.

His Excellency’s contact information is:

Archbishop Jose Gomez

Phone: 213 637 7215

E-mail:  mediarelations@la-archdiocese.org

Ask Archbishop Jose Gomez to Keep the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress Catholic

Footnotes

  1. Statistics quoted from the homepage of the official website of the Los Angeles Religious Congress, last accessed on March 8, 2019, http://www.recongress.org.
  2. Joseph Sciambra, “Mahony to address 2019 catechist congress,” January 16, 2019, last accessed March 8, 2019, https://cal-catholic.com/mahony-to-address-2019-catechist-congress/.
  3. Christian Patin, “What I saw at the (w)REC in LA,” March 26, 2018, last accessed March 8, 2019, https://www.lepantoinstitute.org/saw-wrec-la/.
  4. John Ritchie, “8 Ways Fr. James Martin Is Harming the Catholic Faith,” February 23, 2018, last accessed March 10, 2019, https://www.tfpstudentaction.org/blog/fr-james-martin-is-harming-the-catholic-faith.
  5. Joseph Sciambra, “Priest at LA REC tells Catholic school teachers to ‘affirm’ Second and Third graders in their LGBT identity,” March 22, 2018, last accessed March 7, 2019, http://web.archive.org/web/20181221114510/https://josephsciambra.com/priest-at-la-rec-tells-catholic-school-teachers-to-affirm-second-and-third-graders-in-their-lgbt-identity/.
  6. Joseph Sciambra, “Gay Apologist Thomas Reese to Address 2019 LA REC on Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis,” January 13, 2019, last accessed March 7, 2019, https://musingsofanoldcurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2019/01/gay-apologist-thomas-reese-to-address.html.
  7. LifeSite, “Pro-LGBT priest at L.A. Archdiocese’s religious education event says Catholic Church invented sin,” March 29, 2018, last accessed March 2, 2019, https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pro-lgbt-priest-at-l.a.-archdioceses-religious-education-event-says-catholi.
  8. Joseph Sciambra, “LA archdiocese’s religious ed conference infested with transgender ideology,” March 21, 2018, last accessed March 2, 2019, https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/la-archdioceses-religious-ed-conference-infested-with-transgender-ideology.
  9. Op. Cit., Christian Patin, “What I saw at the (w)REC in LA.”
  10. Op. Cit., LifeSite, “Los Angeles Archdiocese promotes LGBT agenda at ‘Religious Education Congress.’”
  11. Op. Cit., Joseph Sciambra, “Mahony to address 2019 catechist congress.”
  12. Op. Cit., Christian Patin, “What I saw at the (w)REC in LA.”
  13. LifeSite, “Religious ed workshop: ‘Be sensitive, loving and supportive of transgender Catholics in transition,’” March 3, 2017, last accessed March 2, 2019, https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/religious-ed-workshop-be-sensitive-loving-and-supportive-of-transgender-cat.
  14. Op. Cit., Joseph Sciambra, “Gay Apologist Thomas Reese to Address 2019 LA REC on Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis.”
  15. Los Angeles Religious Education Congress Registration Guidebook, p. 47, last accessed March 10, 2019, http://www.recongress.org/2019/pdf/RGB2019.pdf.
  16. Op. Cit., LifeSite, “Los Angeles Archdiocese promotes LGBT agenda at ‘Religious Education Congress.’”

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